Stephen Thornton, profile piece – vision and values


Each month, we shine a light on an individual at Cambridge City Foodbank who has gone above and beyond for our organisation and the local community it serves. In January, we spoke to Chair of the Board of Trustees, Stephen Thornton, to find out more about Cambridge City Foodbank’s new vision and values – and the journey he and many others have been on to lay the foundations for a UK without foodbanks.

As an organisation, why did you come to the decision to reshape the Foodbank’s vision and values?

The whole process started around 12 months ago when Steve Clay took up his role as CEO of Cambridge City Foodbank. Before that time, we were doing a fantastic job of helping people in Cambridge, but the rise in need was relentless and, frankly, it was unsustainable. We were solely focused on meeting the immense need there and then, and didn’t have an explicit vision beyond that point because the team was just so busy. When Steve joined full-time, we gained the capacity to recruit staff, stabilise and look forward to the future.

What was involved in the process?

Firstly, we hosted an away day in May 2023 with the Cambridge City Foodbank management team and our board of trustees, with the aim of mapping out our strategy and the steps we would need to take to get us there. The day opened with a message from Stephen Hicks, Chair at The Trussell Trust, which has recently been through a similar strategic process of its own. We took inspiration from this and spent the rest of the day creating an overview of what we wanted to achieve and why.

The next step was to involve our wonderful team of staff and volunteers, with their wealth of experience and knowledge, so that they could feed into the process and help refine it. I’m so pleased to say their feedback was hugely insightful and helped us to build our ideas into the ambitious vision and values statements we now have.

How are partnerships playing a part in the new direction of Cambridge City Foodbank?

Everyone at Cambridge City Foodbank appreciates the enormous impact that working with both local and national partners can have in helping us to achieve our future plans. Just recently, we announced that our work with Cambridge & District Citizens Advice Bureau has unlocked over £280,000 of funds for people in Cambridge facing food insecurity in its first eight months. Results like this demonstrate the power of working together in sustainably addressing complex needs. Looking ahead to the future, we have lots more exciting partnerships planned in the months to come – stay tuned!

Finally, how will the new vision and values impact current and prospective volunteers?

For the majority of our volunteers, business will remain very much ‘as usual’ in the fight against food insecurity but there will also be more opportunities to support the launch and running of our social supermarkets. We are going to be focusing a lot of attention on recruitment over the coming months, but if anyone is keen to help with this area of our organisation and make a positive difference in Cambridge, please do get in touch on [email protected].