As well as being a Christian church, the C3 Church in Cambridge operates as a much-needed venue for community groups across the city. Its Senior Pastors, Steve and Angie Campbell, were heavily involved in setting up Cambridge City Foodbank, and so an enduring partnership has been formed.
We spoke to Becky Campbell, the Development Manager within the C3 impact team, about the history of C3, the highs and lows of running one of our busiest Foodbank centres, and the importance of effective signposting for our visitors.
How long has C3 been running its Foodbank centre?
We have been running a Foodbank centre since Cambridge City Foodbank was first established. In 2016, we moved from our original base in Trumpington to our new home in the purpose-built C3 Church on Brooks Road in CB1.
Please tell us a little about the community that the C3 Church serves?
The C3 Church has congregants from many different age groups, socioeconomic backgrounds and ethnicities; it is a diverse community that reaches across Cambridgeshire and beyond. Our immediate neighbourhood borders four wards: Romsey, Cherry Hinton, Abbey and Coleridge, all of which are home to some of the poorest families in Cambridge.
How did the partnership come about?
Our Senior Pastor, Angie Campbell, was part of the founding working group responsible for setting up Cambridge City Foodbank, and was one of the charity’s Trustees from the very beginning. The establishment and continuation of the Foodbank centre in the church has, therefore, been quite natural.
What have been the highlights of facilitating a Foodbank centre in the church?
Working with Cambridge City Foodbank is brilliant. Over the years, we have been able to see the Foodbank change, adapt and grow to support the needs of the local community. We have also been able to grow our own support around the Foodbank, offering hot food, advice and support to visitors. We have gone from 25 people staying and connecting with others for lunch, to now seeing on average around 110 people each week.
And the key challenges?
When helping people who are vulnerable, there will always be challenges. We have had our fair share of interesting situations! The pandemic was a challenge for us all, adapting how we could help people. In particular, not being able to initiate the ever-important follow-on connections and conversations with visitors and having to just pass food through the door. The need was higher than ever during the pandemic and the volunteers lower. However I’m proud that, alongside the Foodbank team, we managed to keep up with the demand.
Is there anything you’d like to do in future to expand your partnership with the Foodbank in order to better support the Cambridge community?
We’d love to continue to partner with Cambridge City Foodbank and grow our working relationship. In particular, we’d love to support more with signposting and ensuring the Foodbank and its volunteers are aware of, and can be involved in, the other community support projects we have running.
What other initiatives does C3 help to run?
We run a wellbeing hub which supports individuals with their mental health, while providing practical guidance on things like money and finances, employment and housing. We also run a community market similar to Fairbite; it is run as a social supermarket.
In addition, we partner with Transforming Lives for Good (TLG) to mentor in school; we have two Hope Into Action homes for the homeless, and we run English lessons and an all-nations café for individuals not from the UK.