Food banks are sadly becoming an important – and vital – part of our communities in Liverpool. For the next 12 months, Liverpool City Council’s Communications team will be shining a spotlight on the most used food bank in our city. We want to chronicle the daily reality for thousands of men, women and children across Liverpool.
From the beginning of the year, Beryl Bellew has been chronicling her experiences as a volunteer at the North Liverpool Food bank.
Based at St Andrew’s Church, Clubmoor, Beryl is one of the food bank’s founders and has been giving her time to help others for the past eight years.
Now Beryl has taken the decision to self-isolate due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Due to coronavirus we are now facing major changes in the operation of our food banks across the city. Sadly I and most of our Friday volunteers fall into the vulnerable category and will be taking a step back and self-isolating.
Personally, this is a really difficult decision as I have been involved with the food bank for eight years. I’m hoping that there will be an admin or telephone support role that I can continue with from home.
But the positive news is that food bank provision will continue with different, safe arrangements and many additional younger and fitter volunteers. All this being coordinated by existing food bank operations across the city who are coming together with local authorities, businesses and the community.
For the foreseeable future, Simon Huthwaite, who is the Operations Manager at St Andrew’s Community Network, will be taking up the food bank diary:
Not all of our visitors are local and it isn’t unusual for some to make difficult bus journeys or walk to our centre from other parts of the city.
Some will come prepared, bringing their own bags, trollies or additional helpers to assist with the carrying.
Sometimes visitors are taken by surprise at the amount of food they receive and struggle to get home, maybe having to phone someone to come to their aid, or leave some of their bags and make a return journey
We unfortunately are unable to provide any transport.
One of our ladies recently had been referred to us due to a change in circumstances. She is a single parent and due to illness had to give up work and was waiting for universal credit to be sorted. She managed to get to us by bus but clearly was distressed and would struggle to get home with her bags. She asked us to phone one of her neighbours who offered to come and pick her up. And what a Good Samaritan this neighbour turned out to be! Not only did she take home this lady but also offered to drop off two others en route. Truly the kindness of strangers.
Situations that many of us have to face but how much more distressing when faced with the added worry of no food, delayed benefits and no money for the meters.
We’ve had more people asking us for help with fuel payments, not surprising given the bad winter, but for some it can be an all year round worry. We can only signpost to other agencies who we know may help.
We received some much needed additional shelving last month and our warehouse continues to be able to send us a good food order each week. So we start our Friday mornings with well stocked shelves but within a couple of hours our stocks are low again and it’s usually juice, milk and tinned fruit that we run out of.