Post People: Barking Food Bank founder Obi Onyeabor

Pastor Obi Onyeabor prepares food at the food bank

Pastor Obi Onyeabor prepares food at the food bank - Credit: Archant

Obi Onyeabor, 41, runs the Barking Food Bank and has been living here for eight years. He speaks about coming across from Nigeria and his hopes for helping people here.

“I was born in Nigeria and I spent all my life there before coming to England 10 years ago, first to New Cross and then to Barking in 2005.

All my family were in Nigeria and still are there, and I only knew one person here. Coming over here I didn’t know what to expect but at the end of the day I wasn’t nervous because I was used to going to new places as a missionary.

My first impressions of Barking and Dagenham? It was a totally new environment. The missionary work is a lot harder here than in Nigeria and people don’t respond to it as much. They depend more on the Government and there is a reliance that life goes on.

It makes it difficult when you want to talk to them about God because they say they don’t need God. It took me a while to understand it.

The food bank was something that came out of my belief in doing things for other people.

We were doing a food bank locally within the church but the response wasn’t fantastic as people felt odd taking food from others.

Most Read

Then I came across the Trussell Trust [a national food bank charity] and realised I could do it in a bigger way by extending it to the community.

Poverty is the biggest problem in the borough. People don’t realise it - sometimes when I am collecting for the food bank people ask which country it is going to and they don’t believe it when I say it is for Barking and Dagenham.

Also, people keep their problems within themselves and when we don’t talk that’s when the pressure comes in.

Outside of work and the church I study the Bible or I go to the gym or relax. I live in Barking with my wife, Chioma, and our three children, aged eight, five and two.

I used to go back to Nigeria frequently but now I go once every two years. I’m happy in Barking and looking to stay here for a long time. I believe I have something to offer to this community, but we don’t want to put all our eggs in one basket. I want to stay all my life here but anything can happen.”