In Perspective – The Open Hands Trust

Poverty in Gibraltar behind drawn curtains


Gibraltar may seem as a place that is ‘poverty free’, or at least, a place where food banks may seem as an unnecessary endeavour. However, the Open Hands Trust, through its work have certainly found that this is not the case. “It may not be endemic, but in Gibraltar we find people struggling with the same hardship that you would find in any major European city - the difference is a matter of degree and scale”.

There are certainly hardships to be found in Gibraltar, “and we often face what is known in our line of work as ‘poverty behind drawn curtains’”. There are families “going through very tough patches” and the Open Hands Trust serve to help them.

The Open Hands Trust “was formed as a collective of people who came together in late September 2012 to alleviate hardship in Gibraltar. The initial concept was to start a foodbank operation as a first step to provide relief to people in crisis. Non-perishable in-date food is donated by the public at our supermarket collection point. It is then sorted into emergency food parcels by our volunteers and given to people in need”.

The Trust works with frontline professionals. Doctors, health visitors, social workers, the citizens advice bureau staff, the police community constables and the clergy, etcetera. These professionals will identify cases and refer them to the Trust. “When we receive a request for a food parcel, the service user will usually obtain around three days’ supply of emergency food. After around three referrals, volunteers may meet the frontline professional to signpost people to agencies able to solve any longer-term challenges, should this be necessary as we are not structured to meet ongoing maintenance needs”.