Beryl Bellew is a founding volunteer at the North Liverpool Foodbank. Throughout this year Beryl and her fellow volunteers have been sharing their experiences of giving their time to this vital community service. This month, Beryl reflects as the lead up to Christmas begins…
Who would have thought that we’d receive Easter eggs and chocolate advent calendars in the same week in November! But we did!
We’re very grateful to Pam from a local girl guiding group for donating 100 Easter eggs, still in date, which unfortunately could not be used at Easter and these were a lovely treat for our food bank and pantry visitors. Chocolate is chocolate – whatever the shape!
Advent starts at the beginning of December and thanks to one woman and her young daughter we have an advent calendar for each family who uses our service.
Food banks were designated an essential service and so fortunately we have been allowed to remain open during November’s lockdown. We did however make some changes. Our numbers are growing, but some of our volunteers have returned to shielding, so we made the decision to provide pre-packed bags of food. We want to protect our volunteers and visitors by limiting the number of people in the building and the time spent there. We now have two groups of volunteers: a small group comes in every Thursday to pack food bags and toiletries, ready for our Friday callers to collect.
Marg spent a couple of hours making up bags of toiletries. Each pack contains a toilet roll, plus three other items such as deodorant, toothpaste, soap, shower gel or shampoo, depending on what’s been donated. She also divided up a giant box of washing powder enabling 11 families to benefit from this one donation. We are frequently asked for soap powder but rarely have any available. Sanitary towels and nappies are also provided if requested.
Our shelves continue to be well stocked but we don’t have any facilities to store fresh or dairy products. Thankfully we’ve been given a weekly cash allowance which enables us to buy eggs, cheese, butter, meat and bread. The sausage and bacon are very popular!
We’ve recently had a donation of men’s warm winter clothing and although we aren’t able to store any clothing items it’s good to know that we have something to offer if any of our visitors are really in need.
We don’t get a lot of feedback, but our curate told us of a brief conversation he had had a few weeks ago with a man who was just leaving the food bank. He had three large bags of food and when Tim asked him if he had got what he needed, he replied, with a smile, “Tonight I’ll eat.”