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GWP help Swindon Foodbank with efficiency targets

Matt Dobson: Last Updated 18th February 2022
Posted In: Community / Charity | Company News xx 31179

Helping With Logistics

GWP Packaging donate range of handling boxes to help with increased demand

GWP Packaging has teamed up with Swindon Foodbank to help the charity meet their increasing logistical challenges.

With a higher volume of people in Swindon and the surrounding area using the Foodbank, GWP donated a number of handling boxes to help with the movement of donated food around the charity’s warehouse.

These boxes, originally designed by students as part of a collaboration with the Foodbank, were manufactured and printed at GWP’s Cricklade plant before being delivered in time for a spike in use over the festive period.

Swindon Foodbank boxes
Cher Smith, MBE, with the GWP boxes that have been donated to Swindon Foodbank

Challenges faced by the Foodbank

The ongoing squeeze on households in Swindon – combined with the impact of Universal Credit – has seen a marked increase in numbers using the towns’ Foodbank.

Whilst the generosity of Churches and Schools over the harvest festival period has seen shelves remain well stocked, the additional volume of both individuals and families using Swindon Foodbank means the charity has had to focus on how they can manage the extra workload.

Swindon Foodbank donations
The team at Swindon Foodbank with the handling boxes GWP have provided

Cher Smith, Manager at Swindon Foodbank, has said improving the way the Foodbank handles donations, organisation and distribution is becoming more of a priority – and that other local businesses besides GWP Packaging are beginning to help them from an operational perspective.

Cher said;

We are getting to a stage where we are having to look at ways of improving the efficiency of our operations to cope, and are being supported by local businesses in doing so.

How GWP Packaging has helped

“For example, the donation of handling boxes from GWP makes sorting the donations and getting food to the distribution centres so much easier.

“As we need to weigh in all donations, manage stock rotation, best before dates and keep an eye on overall stock levels, even small improvements can make a big difference and help our wonderful teams of volunteers be even more productive.

“This is in addition to ensuring we have enough funding to run the charity – the warehouse lease, running two vans, utilities and other overheads comes to £65,000 per year.

“The cardboard boxes make a real difference to us and I’d like to thank GWP for their help, and indeed all of the generous companies in Swindon who support us in varying ways.” she added.

Swindon Foodbank GWP Packaging
Matt Dobson, Marketing Manager at GWP, with Cher Smith MBE of Swindon Foodbank

Ruth Cook, Managing Director of GWP Packaging commented:

We have worked with Swindon Foodbank in one way or another for around 4 years now, and continue to be impressed with fantastic service they offer in what are frequently difficult conditions. We are happy and proud to support them in whatever ways we can, and would encourage others to do so as well.

About the boxes supplied by GWP Packaging

The boxes supplied by GWP Packaging have an unusually interesting story behind them.

Going back to 2013, GWP was struggling to recruit structural packaging designers, and felt it needed to do something to encourage the next generation of designers and engineers to look at Packaging as a career choice.

This led to discussion with Swindon College, and specifically engineering students.

However, at the point of creating a brief to work on, there was much discussion as to what any structural boxes or packaging could be used for. Creating a “real life” problem to solve would actually be of greater benefit to the student’s development.

Packaging challenge for students
Engineering students from Swindon College take part in a packaging challenge set by GWP

This is where the Swindon Foodbank came in.

Even going back nearly five years, the scale of the charities operations was surprising. However, the warehouse consisted of a huge array of tatty, mismatched boxes that were provided by supermarkets at the end of their life.

This made handling, sorting and storage difficult.

The result was the winning team of students creating a standardised box that could be used not only for storing food, but which also allowed for gathering of items specific to single people, couples or families. Handling was much easier, and the boxes also lasted much, much longer.

With the original run of boxes eventually coming to the end of their life (after almost five years of service), GWP manufactured another run of the packaging to allow the Foodbank to continue with it’s now well established handling processes and procedures.

Swindon Foodbank plans to cope with increased demand

Besides improving efficiency however, The Foodbank has other plans in the pipeline to maintain its service when faced with increased demand.

Cher said: “We have just come out of a busy period during the summer holidays, where many families struggle to cope with the loss of free school meals over a 6 week period. However, the introduction of Universal Credit has been a huge problem for many too.

Cher Smith, Swindon Foodbank
Cher Smith MBE, of Swindon Foodbank, with the boxes GWP have donated

We are seeing more and more people affected by this and who simply cannot cope – and the situation could get even worse.

So whilst we already have seven distribution centres, we are planning to open an eighth in Abbey Meads at some stage in the future as this is an emerging area of concern.We also handled and distributed 47 tonnes of food in 2016, but 2017 is on course to be well over 50 tonnes. This is where donations such as the handling boxes from GWP can make a real difference.

Cher added:

SBC have indicated that there is now a large increase in rent arrears due to Universal Credit – the level has increased with claimants on UC owing £600k which is 50% of the total of SBC rent arrears.  And whilst people are in some cases able to get advance payments, this can then add to the spiral of debt that many find themselves in. The result is more people in need of the Foodbanks’ services, and an increasing workload for all of the team here. So any help, no matter how big or small, really can make all the difference.

Previous projects and collaborations

Besides supplying the handling boxes, GWP has actually worked with Swindon Foodbank on a number of other projects too.

This has included GWP’s maintenance team completely re-wiring and certifying their warehouse electrics, as well as providing additional storage of pallets over busy periods.

A different box – manufactured from Correx® and designed to also act as a counter top display for food donations – was also designed and produced.

Foodbank fund raising
A team of GWP employees undertake the 3 Peaks challenge to raise funds for Swindon Foodbank

Plus, a team of 10 GWP staff and friends completed the “3 Peaks Challenge” – scaling the 3 highest peaks in the UK in 24 hours – raising over £2,500 for the charity in the process.

You can find out more about GWP Groups’ work with the Foodbank by visiting the news section of this website.

Find out more...

For more information about the charity, to donate to Swindon Foodbank or find out more about how you can help, please visit

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About the Author

Matt Dobson

Marketing Manager | GWP Group

Matt has worked in the packaging industry for approximately 9 years, having joined GWP Group as Marketing Executive in 2012. [Read full bio…]

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