Beryl Bellew is a founding volunteer at the North Liverpool Foodbank. This month, Beryl explains how the Foodbank helps out with more than food.
“All users of our Foodbank bring with them a voucher or e-referral reference number. This is provided by any support agency or professional who is supporting them. The voucher provides us with very basic details such as name, address, the number in the family and the brief reason for needing emergency food.
We’ve become aware that during lockdown more people than before are visiting the Foodbank for the first time. This may be because they have been furloughed, have lost their employment or just can’t handle their change in circumstances
One of our volunteers just recently spoke to a lady who really was very distressed. Her family circumstances had changed drastically and although she was in work the family could not manage and needed to come to the Foodbank. As she was in work she had difficulty getting to us. We were able to listen and talk to her about her situation and she was signposted to our community network for additional support.
We find that so many of our visitors struggle to find their way around the complex welfare benefits system and we try to provide information and point them to the right source of help. To equip us to do this our co-ordinator has arranged for some of our volunteers to attend an introduction to welfare benefits course. This doesn’t turn us into experts but gives us a greater awareness and some basic knowledge. We’re able to refer to Katy, our network’s qualified welfare benefits advisor, and are pleased that Helen, our community money worker, is able to drop into both Foodbank and Pantry sessions.
A few of our Foodbank users this month have signed up to become Pantry members and we are still on hand to provide any additional support.
The middle of March saw us preparing small Mother’s Day gifts for visitors and we gave out Easter Eggs and gifts last week as we don’t open our centre again until after Easter. St Andrew’s has invited people from the local community to pick up a hot cross bun baking kit and join in a Zoom meeting on Easter Saturday to show their creations whilst thinking about the meaning of Easter.
We’re pleased to now be making plans to gradually open up our centre again and hope that by the end of June we’ll once again be able to offer refreshments and engage more fully with our visitors.”