Beryl Bellew is a founding volunteer at the North Liverpool Foodbank. Since the introduction of lockdown, Beryl has had to take a step back from the project she helped to create to shield from coronavirus. Now, as lockdown eases, Beryl is gradually returning to her former duties and provides us with this month’s instalment of the Food Bank Diary.
“We anticipated an increase in the number of visitors coming into our food bank during October. St Andrew’s continues to be the busiest food bank in North Liverpool and as the last week of October is half term, we were busier than ever.
Along with many others across Liverpool, St Andrew’s Church has provided packed lunches for children entitled to free school meals.
We are pleased that we’ve had several more people interested in volunteering with us. This includes a couple of students who need to do some work experience as part of their course.
We’ve become aware that more key workers are coming in to collect food on behalf of their clients. Our policy has always been that we like to meet the clients in person but we realise it’s not always possible. So consequently, we’re having more conversations with the key workers about the needs of their clients. They come in from the voluntary and statutory sectors and tell us about clients with mental health problems, struggling to leave the house.
Others who have caring responsibilities, or are lone parents, those who are ill or just discharged from hospital. Some who have been rough sleepers and are just moving into their own accommodation. And some who are shielding or self-isolating. But whatever their circumstances all needing emergency food.
It’s given me a greater understanding and appreciation of these support workers. Many of whom have large caseloads and often go that extra mile to support their clients.
Beth came to see us a couple of weeks ago, she had no one supporting her and didn’t have a food voucher, but had heard that we would be able to help her. She’d moved to Liverpool recently with her partner but was now on her own without family or friends. She’d managed to get a place in a hostel but was struggling financially. She also wanted to re-engage with Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Most meetings had gone online and she had been unable to access them.
We were able to organise some support and emergency food for her. We had information about a nearby AA group and we were also able to signpost her to our welfare benefits advisor and our Celebrate Recovery group. She told us that when she sorted herself out she would like to volunteer with us and has now arranged to see me again in a few weeks.
Fortunately, our shelves continue to be well-stocked and we top up each week with dairy items and fresh fruit and veg. Our order at the beginning of the month contained a quantity of hand sanitiser which we can give out to each visitor. A very kind lady supplied us with a bag of homemade face coverings for use by the volunteers.
I had a call from our curate at the beginning of the month telling me that he’d received a donation of non – food items for children. Any visitor to food bank with children would be welcome to take something. I was amazed at the quantity and quality of what I saw, three trestle tables full of new or nearly-new toys and baby clothes.
We’ve met Dawn a couple of times. She’s a lone parent struggling to cope on her own with six children. Assisted by her 10-year-old son, she was able to take away several toys, packed away in a black bin bag and would hide them away for Christmas. She told me how much she was dreading Christmas and what a great help this would be.”