Part 9 of our Continuing Adventures of Running a Food & Toiletries Bank during a pandemic. Weeks 41 - 51

Well here we are approaching 12 months since we started running in pandemic mode, who would have believed it, last march? This has been our longest period between newsletters and although the third period of lockdown has meant we have needed to close our clothes and small household items areas, its been a stable period. Our biggest problem has been a tricky repair to our heating system. For several weeks we had no heating but it is now thankfully fixed. We are looking ahead and planning our own roadmap towards the summer when we shall hopefully see the whole of "MultiBank" open and a return of coffee shop and crafts. 
I am going to be talking more about the long term financial side of the project latter in the newsletter but If you want to help us financially now then use this link. or to find past newsletters and more information then head over to this page
Thank you to everyone who has helped us this last year you have helped feed many many people and you have given hope to many in despair. 
Our new Food Bank Manager, Sharon  was settled in to the role very well and is improving our project through better day to day management. We are very grateful for grants to enable us to employ Sharon from National Lottery Community Fund, Doncaster Council Fight Back Fund, and South Yorkshire Community Fund.

We have continued to receive fantastic support from M&S, Tesco, ASDA, Lidl through FareShare and Neighbourly organisations. The COOP store has also started supporting us in February. 
Some of the staff at Phone World in Doncaster saw the que of people outside before we open and decided they wanted to help. So they turned up with a van full of food after a staff whip-around. Well done to Scott and the team.
We continued to get support from many smaller organisations including Spotborough Orchard Infant School, Sir Thomas Wharton Academy Edlington, AF Blakemore & Sons, FoodAWARE CIC and many individuals.
You may remember we had a grant from the Marcus Rashford appeal via FareShare which was matched by the christian charity LoveYourNeighbour. These are some of the 200 bags we made up and distributed to children.
Two of our volunteers with their carload to take out the deliveries. All were warmly received and put many smiles on many faces.

The week before Christmas was our busiest ever with many more families seeking assistance. Since the turn of the year we have seen our first small gradual sustained fall in attendance. Time will tell if this trend continues. On average 15 new people came every week over the last 6 months.
We have been looking deeper into the data to pick up more trends to help us with forward planning with a month by month break down of attendance patterns since September when we started to gather detailed information. 

This shows the number of individuals who came each month for the last six months. The average individual comes once a week although this does vary a lot. The graph also shows the number of additional adults and children supported. The drop in children supported suggests council measures put in place post Christmas have helped a great deal.
Slightly fewer people now coming from Hexthorpe and Central Doncaster and more from Balby. Although it is worth remembering that in the early months of pandemic 80% came from Balby, 17% from Hexthorp and 3% from elsewhere. 1in 20 of attendees are now traveling some distance to get to us, often by bike and bus but also walking. This shows the uniqueness of the help we offer. We now have a reputation of helping anyone without evidence of need so people will also come to us until referral to agencies come through for help. We offer immediate help.
This tells us a bit more about peoples attendance patterns and hopefully alleys people who are wondering if our open access policy is abused. The fact that the majority come only up to three occasions should convince people there is not wide scale abuse. Those who come frequently we get to know well and they are so grateful. Many have multiagency support and will have a complex mix of issues of mental health, addiction and capacity to understand. Yes some need intense support for awhile but usually do move on. 
We now see more families with younger children attending than six months ago. There are slightly more males attending i.e. less women are now attending, however it is worthing remembering that women made up only 20% early in the pandemic and only 5% a couple of years ago.
The proportion of the BAME community attending has fallen in the last six months and is back to what we saw at the start of the pandemic. This may because of many more grants being targeted specifically for BAME groups.
Less than half attending have a phone and most that we see belong in a museum. Many don't have any credit and can only receive calls. This will impact those in poverty more and more as access to services become digital and assume possession of a smart phone with 4G. 
Now that the Food Bank Manager is in place and funded for the next 12 months, we have been thinking about the longer term funding of the running costs of the project especially the food we need to buy to top up the donations we receive from supermarkets and individuals.
We have thought carefully about what we need to buy and fine tuned our weekly list. We need to spend on average £350 per week which equates to £15000 per year. Now this does sound a lot of money but when you consider that this enables 12,200 visits to MultiBank and that on average most people leave with two bags of shopping, the cost per visit is only £1.23! This represents tremendous value for money. 
So we are looking for 250 partners who will promise to donate £5 every month to support our work. Not only does this help feed many people but it also shows to grant making organisations the level of our local support. Will you be one of our Partners who will help us continue to support the weakest in society?
Click to become one of Partners

The above link takes you to the Parish Giving Scheme (PGS)

This is set up by the Church of England who will automatically reclaim Gift Aid for us free. The Account is called BLW Youth & Community Fund. BLW stands for Balby, Loversall & Wadworth because although based at Balby all three churches are involved with running Given Freely Freely Given. Also when not in a pandemic the project includes our free youth club on a Friday, hence youth is in the name. This helps us when we are applying for grants.
Donations can be made on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis by Direct Debit. Even though the donations are made to the PGS, donations are restricted to our community work and cannot be used elsewhere.

The donation will be passed back to us by 10th of the month. Gift Aid will be sent separately once PGS has received it from HMRC.

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