Like many organisations, when we realized that the Covid virus was about to change how we operated we quickly swung into action. When lockdown was introduced on 23rd March we were ready to continue providing our emergency food parcels to those in need in our City.
As most of our volunteers are in their over 70s we quickly recruited over 60 new volunteers to help on a fortnightly rota giving our food parcels at our foodbank centre. This enabled our at risk group of volunteers to stay home and stay safe. We have been operating out of just one foodbank centre, Dogsthorpe Methodist Church, but this has been open every morning Mon to Sat. We have had to simplify our service as we cannot currently offer the tea, chat and signposting part of our work but the good news is that we are still able to provide the much needed food. We operate in a very safe way, by providing the food at the door only and we ensure clients waiting outside, and our volunteers all maintain the 2 metre social distancing rule. We provide the necessary PPE and increased our hygiene and cleaning processes at both the warehouse and foodbank centre.
We have been very blessed during this season to continue receiving both food and monetary donations. Monetary donations have been received from NFU mutual, BGL, rotary clubs, Orton Longueville Parish Council to name a few to enable us to purchase food. We also secured some additional funding through Trussell Trust to enable us to operate the warehouse every morning which has helped us keep our foodbank centre stocked with food and be open for donations. Tesco and Morrisons have been donating large amounts of food, which was brokered by Trussell Trust, which will continue for a few more weeks.
We quickly realised that people who could not afford food and needed to self-isolate or were sheltering would not be able to attend our foodbank centre. So we started a delivery model taking food parcels to those in need and we have done deliveries to date.
To help our referral agencies, we were able to give them access to e-referral which meant they could continue to issue vouchers over the phone to their clients as face to face meetings were no longer possible. We know many of them have been working extremely hard to support their clients and carry out welfare checks.
As expected during this season need for the foodbank support has dramatically soared. We are up approx. 60% on the number of food vouchers issued, up 98% on total fed, and up 180% on number of kids fed. We are concerned about the future need post covid, and believe that we are going to see more people in need/poverty and for longer.
Finally, we just want to express our thanks and gratitude to everyone who has supported us. Those who could not buy the food at the shops have been donating money online which has been amazing. So whether it was a monetary donation, a packet of toilet rolls (which at the start were like gold dust), carrier bags, soap or food, or volunteering, we want to say a big thank you.
Community Action Projects Manager – Foodbank & Care Zone
Dodson House, Dodson Way,
Fengate, PE1 5XG