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GWP marks ten years of support for Swindon Food Collective

Matt Dobson: Last Updated 16th February 2024
Posted In: Community / Charity | Company News xx 31179

Donation of packaging

GWP supports charity with cardboard handling trays

GWP Packaging has marked ten years of supporting Swindon Food Collective by donating hundreds of boxes for the charity to use for food and other donations.

The Swindon-based packaging manufacturer stepped in to assist the charity, formerly known as Swindon Foodbank, following a surge in demand caused by the ongoing cost of living crisis.

Printed with Swindon Food Collective’s branding, the packaging is used by the charity to handle food and other donations at its West Swindon warehouse.

Swindon Food Collective tray in use at the foodbank
Swindon Food Collective tray in use at the food-bank.

Challenges faced by Swindon Food Collective

Although GWP has supported Swindon Food Collective for ten years, the charity has found itself coming under increasing pressure.

Cher Smith MBE, Manager at Swindon Food Collective, commented:

Covid certainly caused a sharp rise in people using our services, but the cost-of-living crisis has seen this accelerate still further. This time last year, we were feeding about 7,600 people; now, it’s almost 11,000. This number is only growing.

She added:

We’ve opened four more distribution centres in the last couple of years, taking us up to 11 in total, with another two planned. We’ve also opened one centre for longer so that we can spend more time with people collecting donations, rather than just a quick over-the-counter service. And we have had to recruit almost 40 more volunteers.

GWP Marketing Manager Matt Dobson, and Swindon Food Collective Manager Cher Smith MBE, with some of the donated boxes.
GWP Marketing Manager Matt Dobson, and Swindon Food Collective Manager Cher Smith MBE, with some of the donated boxes.

The charity is also finding that they need more donations to cover the surge in demand, which has equated to it distributing an extra 20 tonnes of food in the past 12 months.

Cher continued:

Supporters can now download an app called “Bank the Food” that automatically sends notifications of the food products we are most in need of when they visit their local shops or supermarket. But even with this, we are now spending around £1,000 per month to ensure we have enough food.

Ten years of support

With this growing demand and ongoing use, packaging has become increasingly crucial to running the Food Collective’s operations.

The design for the charity’s packaging was originally a winning entry from a competition organised by GWP for Swindon College students in 2013. GWP has since manufactured and donated the boxes multiple times, most recently providing a large number during the first COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020.

Packaging challenge for students
Engineering students from Swindon College take part in a packaging challenge to design a box for Swindon Foodbank.

Besides donating the packaging used by Swindon Food Collective, GWP has supported the charity in several other ways over the past decade. This included providing maintenance technicians to rewire the electrics at their storage depot and storing pallets of donations at GWP’s warehouse.

A team of GWP employees also undertook the three peaks challenge to raise much-needed funds for the charity.

Cher added:

GWP has been one of our main supporters over the past ten years, supplying us with boxes and providing other support as well. We really appreciate their help. As a charity, we rely on the generosity of individuals and local businesses to keep providing this vital service. We can’t say thank you enough to everyone that supports us.

Ruth Cook, Managing Director at GWP, commented:

It’s hard to believe that it has been ten years since we became involved with Swindon Foodbank. We are proud to be able to provide ongoing support to the great work the charity is doing, and we hope that our contribution helps in some way to assist it in providing this much-needed service.

Other community projects and support

GWP, part of Macfarlane Packaging, has a long history of supporting other community groups and charities.

This includes donating transit packaging to Medical Missionary News (MMN), a large number of boxes which were turned into hampers by the Marmalade Trust, and various materials that were made into a display on mental health by Shine Pinehurst.

Donated boxes in use at Swindon Food Collective distribution centre.
Donated boxes in use at Swindon Food Collective distribution centre.

This is in addition to a wide range of support for local schools and colleges, setting projects for students, donating materials, and providing tours of GWP’s facilities.

The wider Macfarlane Group is also heavily involved with a number of charities and also runs a scheme encouraging all employees to volunteer within their local communities.

Find out more

For further information on Swindon Food Collective and how you can support the charity, please visit

Alternatively, for further information regarding the charities and community Groups GWP support, please visit the news section.

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About the Author

Matt Dobson, GWP Group Marketing Manager

Matt Dobson

Marketing Manager | GWP Group

Matt has worked in the packaging industry for over 10 years, having joined GWP Group as Marketing Executive in 2012. [Read full bio…]

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