A Social Supermarket (and more)

by | 1 May 2023 | Local Charity, Rother, Social Group

It was great to meet with Rev Ali Middleton, associate vicar at Rotherham Minister to discuss the Social Supermarket at the Minster and in a nearby shop. The Supermarket developed from a food parcel delivery scheme during the 2020 lockdown. It showed people appreciated a chat just as much as the food. Loneliness remains a huge issue for many local people. The cost of living crisis has left many in despair.

One member explained: “It is a good friendly place.” Their finances had been in order but big price rises, especially in food and heating, meant things had got out of control both practically and emotionally. And sometimes, whilst foodbanks are extremely useful especially in urgent situations, they can have a limited choice. The Social Supermarket at the Minster stocks basic foodstuffs (fresh, frozen and tinned) and a variety of hygiene products, some small treats and even limited pet supplies.

If someone is struggling with debt, poverty or health issues they can be referred to the Supermarket. Referrals can be made by a GP, social worker, teacher, Rotherfed, Citizens Advice or anyone working with that person. There is a short waiting list and members must be willing and able to turn up for their regular weekly slot and pay £3.00 each visit for their membership and food.

At their first visit to the Supermarket there is a chat with staff and a food parcel given. Otherwise, that visit might be overwhelming if someone feels isolated. Membership then lasts three months. Members can choose food limited only by availability and what they can carry. The ethos is to help people regain their confidence, direction, and the links they need to move on with life. Rev Ali calls it an all-round approach, and it is not just about meeting someone’s need for food.

Another member explained: “They treat people like an adult. When you are at your lowest you are not a person.” The Social Supermarket has generated further groups which are not only open to members but, as Rev Ali puts it, they ‘always bears them in mind’. For example, there is a group for those with young children, a ‘catch up café’ for companionship and groups for Pilates as well as some more Church-related activities – something for everyone.

Coaching is given to help members reorientate and regain better financial control of their lives. The underlying aim might be best described as transformation and a recognition that quality support needs to continue after the three month membership ends and members ‘graduate’.

There are about 30 volunteers, mostly from outside the Church. If you are interested please contact Christine, Allie or Rev Ali on 01709 431616 or email socialsupermarket@rotherhamminster.co.uk. If you have an enquiry as a potential referrer the same details apply. Do take a moment to consider if you know someone who might benefit or you might help in some way.

David Coldrick
Home Instead Senior Care Rotherham
34 Moorgate Road S60 2AG
01709 837170
All views are his own