Victoria Miller, manager of Chipping Barnet Foodbank and winner of one of Barnet's 2024 Civic Awards, is celebrating another success -- confirmation that her team of volunteers are making progress in their ambition to reduce people's dependency on food banks.


All callers at the foodbank are now offered a wide range of advice and assistance to help sort out any difficulties in their lives.

Figures for the first 12 months are showing that more families are now managing without having to request food parcels.

“We are passionate about the long-term aim to reduce dependency on food banks,” said Victoria.

“Our ability with the backing of other voluntary groups to offer wrap-around help and advice is leading to a definite increase in the number of clients who don’t have to return to us for direct help.

“Overall demand for food parcels is still high because of the cost-of-living crisis but the success of this extension in the support we offer is so encouraging.”

Much to Victoria’s delight her award for outstanding service to the community was matched by the founder of another community project situated just a hundred yards away in Mowbray Road, New Barnet.

Wendy Alcock, founder of the Barnet’s Incredible Edible campaign, has won recognition for her outstanding service which includes the creation of a community garden outside St John’s United Reform Church.

Bob Burstow, most recently secretary of the Chipping Barnet Town Team, was awarded a 2024 civic award for lifetime achievement.

A certificate of a scroll for outstanding service went to Barnet Council’s former road sweeper Dougie Shrubb who won plaudits over the years for his dedication in keeping Barnet High Street spick and span.   

Victoria Miller – seen here (from left to right) with volunteers, Vicki, Toulla, and Chris – was appointed foodbank manager two years ago and like other groups in the Trussell Trust, Chipping Barnet is determined to do more to co-ordinate support for needy families.

People who are referred to the foodbank – held on Tuesdays and Saturdays at St Peter’s Roman Catholic Church, Somerset Road, New Barnet – first check in at the church hall where advice and assistance is now one hand.

Refreshments are available. This is the opportunity for an individual to ask questions and get problems sorted out by volunteers from numerous organisations including Citizens Advice; Digital Skills and Support; Boost Barnet, offering advice on employment, jobs, and housing; Christians Against Poverty who can help with debt relief; and Change Grow Live, who can assist on problems involving addiction.

“Our ability to run the advice centre in the church hall is a real step change. We now have a warm space where those who have been referred to us can talk through their difficulties and we can assess the support they need.

"We gave out 6,571 food parcels last year and are currently supporting around 140 people a week."

Victoria is one of the original founders of the Chipping Barnet Foodbank – along with Sheila Gallagher. They started providing food parcels from the former the Salvation Army Hall in Albert Road in November 2012.

“I am proud of what the food back has achieved in the last 14 years. We can now draw on a team of 200 volunteers and we get referrals from across the borough from local doctors, social workers, charities, schools, and other agencies.”

The foodbank’s next possible initiative is to develop a space for growing produce in the garden behind St Peter’s church -- a project which Victoria hopes might be achieved with the support of Wendy Alcock and Incredible Edible.

“Wendy’s passion is encouraging people to grow their own food – and last year, through her help, people who came for a food parcel could also take away a tomato plant to grow their own produce.

“This year Wendy is promising to let us have green bean plants to encourage our clients to start cultivating once again. “

“It would be amazing if we could have our own community garden at the rear of the church. This is something other food banks have developed, and we are so lucky to have the space.”

Wendy was delighted with her award for outstanding service to the community in recognition of her “inspiration, passion and innovation and for promoting local food growing”.

Seen here in the summer of 2020 at the community garden she helped to establish at St John’s church, she praised Barnet Council for acknowledging the importance of residents growing their own food.

“I think Incredible Edible is probably the only initiative with an environmental focus to have been selected this year but there are many more green projects around the Borough of Barnet that deserve an award.”

Bob Burstow, who retired recently from the role of secretary of Chipping Barnet Town Team, was awarded his Barnet Civic Award for Lifetime Achievement in recognition of the support and guidance he has given over many years to successful community projects.

He led the initiative to organise a 12-month trial of Barnet’s first Teenage Market in 2018 when 12 stalls filled the entrance to The Spires shopping centre.

Theresa Villiers, the Chipping Barnet MP – seen here with Bob at one of the stalls – joined other community leaders in praising his initiative in starting a crowd funding appeal.

Bob was one of the volunteers who helped launch the Barnet Medieval Festival – seen here at a fund-raising stall in 2020 with the festival director Susan Skedd.

There must have been plenty of nominations for a civic award for former road sweeper Dougie Shrubb who was presented with a certificate of a scroll of outstanding service by the Mayor of Barnet, Councillor Nagus Narenthira.

Dougie retired in December last year after finally calling it a day at the age of 71, long after the official retirement age.

Fond farewells were the order of the day along the High Street as he emptied bins and cleared up litter for one last time and news of his retirement led to scores of online goodwill messages on local websites.

Dougie -- seen above in 2020 – was praised for continuing to work during the covid pandemic.

He joined the staff of Barnet Council 44 years ago as a gardener in East Barnet, then switched to road sweeping in 1987, and spent the last 25 years in High Barnet.

Financial contributions towards the cost and preparation of food parcels can be made directly at the foodbank’s website and the money is also used to purchase supermarket vouchers for families most in need.