My name is Simon Huthwaite and I’m the Operations Manager for St Andrew’s Community Network. The Network is the home of North Liverpool Foodbank and as detailed previously, we provide 3-day emergency food parcels to people in crisis across the north of the city in partnership with the Trussell Trust.
We have noticed an increase in the number of people we are supporting who have lost their jobs due to the lockdown. This month we have been working with a family from West Derby who found themselves in crisis because the main bread-winner lost their job in the hospitality industry. With two children in the household there is always a lot to pay out for and they were really struggling. An application for Universal Credit had gone in straight away but takes a number of weeks to process. In the meantime, rent and debts still needed to be paid. Never having accessed a food bank before, they contacted us and we were able support them with a three-day emergency food parcel which included fresh fruit, vegetables and bread.
We were also able to signpost them to Liverpool City Council’s Citizen Support Scheme for more help. They were unbelievable grateful for the support. In my last update, I detailed how our processes had changed and what things looked like at our central packing centre in Anfield.
This month has been a month of settling into the new “normal”. Our central packing centre continues to operate really well and is well staffed with amazing volunteers from a huge variety of backgrounds. The emergency food parcels are going out daily and we are also doing between 10 and 15 home deliveries a day. We are being supported by British Gas drivers on this which is much appreciated.
One of the things we have constantly had to assess and change is our health and safety processes. One of my debt advisers John McCormack is an ex-fireman and very experienced in dynamic risk assessments and encouraging safe working practices. He has led our risk assessment, safety notice and safety briefing process admirably but the challenge has been keeping up with the changes in legislation.
We have had to re-do our risk assessments several times but have done a really good job of this and our staff and volunteers all feel well protected and able to do their jobs safely.
Part of our battle against food insecurity has been the advent of pantries in North Liverpool. We have seen a significant rise in referrals into food banks over the last couple of years and as part of a review of the set up last year, we decided that pantries were one way we could do this. We are working with ‘Your Local Pantry’ to facilitate this. We set up our first pantry at St George’s Church in Everton in December 2019 and have been able to set up two more in Norris Green and Clubmoor under COVID-19 – no mean feat.
Next month’s update will highlight these in more detail.
Our next challenge, and it’s a big one, is ensuring we come out of lockdown as well as we went in. We have changed our operation so much that we will never go back to the way things were. We need to plan for what the new “normal” is and ensure that we continue to offer the highest standards to staff, volunteers and the people we serve.
I remain incredibly proud of what we have achieved, moved by the support we have received and feel increasingly confident that whatever the world throws at us, we can handle it!