Beryl Bellew is a founding volunteer at the North Liverpool Foodbank. This month, Beryl and the team have been welcoming new volunteers and are looking ahead to – hopefully – getting back to normal.
“I really didn’t think so much was involved ”, “That’s amazing”, “Can’t wait to start and be part of all this”.
That’s just three of the comments from two women who came along to talk about volunteering in our food bank. It’s great that we have a steady stream of people who would like to volunteer with us. We ask all would-be volunteers to come and chat to us when we are closed this allows us to respect and maintain the confidentiality of our food bank users and secondly to ensure we have as much time as possible to answer questions.
People are amazed when they hear what goes on behind the scenes and the organisation it takes to open up a distribution centre for two hours a week. Thankfully, much of this is centrally co-ordinated. For example, ensuring that there are enough trained volunteers to staff the centre every week, food collections and donations, warehouse and stock control, liaising with local and national food suppliers, logistics, making sure the centres are stocked and that they receive deliveries as required – and much, much more! St Andrew’s Foodbank is one of 11 food bank distribution centres coordinated by North Liverpool Foodbank which is overseen by the Trussell Trust, a national charity. I’m sure that the many other food banks and community food hubs across Liverpool operated by community, neighbourhood and faith groups will echo this.
February has been a busy month at St Andrew’s. We’ve continued to have an average of about 13 callers each Friday, feeding 123 people during the month. Staff from the Community Network have packed and delivered between three and eight emergency food parcels daily to those who are housebound. Our Pantry remains open on a Wednesday morning, with around 40 members calling in to collect their pre-packed shopping and another ten deliveries made to people who are continuing to shield.
Every day during the half-term break, volunteers prepared and handed out takeaway lunches to children from the local community. Pancake-making kits were given out along with an invitation to attend a Zoom pancake party on Shrove Tuesday. Members of the community were also invited to sign up for a Zoom cookery course – all ingredients were provided – and each day focused on recipes from different cultures.
Along with the rest of the country we eagerly awaited the Prime Minister’s statement about the easing of lockdown. We’re so looking forward to being able to sit and chat with our visitors over a cup of tea and talk about any other support that we can provide or to which we can direct them. We’ll shortly be drawing up our own “roadmap” to ease our services back and we’re pleased that Helen, the network‘s newly appointed community money adviser is already making plans to visit us regularly.