Part 3 of our Continuing Adventures of Running a Food & Toiletries Bank during a pandemic. Weeks 9-13

More and more people came forward for help, some are now regulars but many come for a week or two and then are ok. We have continued to adapt and change, making an effort to open small parts of our other banks such as bedding and household items. 
Can you help? Yes we need donations whether non-perishable food or money to help sustain the work we are doing. We need donations of money as this helps cover our core running costs. This helps us get grants as it shows we have support of individuals. Details at the end of this newsletter.
We also need Men's clothing
We help an average of 46 households at the food bank each morning we are open. In addition we have delivered on average to another 12 households each day during June.
There is an ebb and a flow to who comes but we have tried to find out a little more about who we help. So far I’ve interviewed 22 people. This is not a large sample size and I will continue to interview and increase the number but so far:
21/22 say the food has been a vital to getting through the pandemic
20/22 say the toiletries are vital to keep clean during the pandemic
14/22 have said coming to the food bank has been vital to their mental wellbeing during the pandemic. Being able to chat to people in the que and us inside and having somewhere to get up and go to  has been very important.

59% are male
23% are BAME
73% live in Balby
100% live in Balby or Hexthorpe
They have lived in their current property for an average of 19 months They attend an average of 2.7 times per week 30% are families with 18 children between them. 68% came to GFFG before the pandemic.

8 live in private rented housing
2 live in private rented flat
2 are in ledger properties
4 are with Bridge It housing
1 with Target housing
2 with Yorkshire housing
2 House Multiple Occupancy (HMO)
1 council flat

WEEK Nine beginning 11th May

This week we got into the rhythm of all the extra deliveries and started to see another couple of volunteers coming back to help. One of our volunteers Dan had a keen eye for displaying the food better and safer. Ice packs started to be used amongst the salad! 
We started to make progress with non food donations which had been brought to church as the pandemic broke before lockdown. We don't normally have a high demand for books but four boxes of books that had been sneaked in by someone amongst the donations were put to good use to relieve pandemic boredom.
Please note: We don't want any more books.

WEEK Ten beginning 18th May

Extra regular donations from ASDA and a few more volunteers really made a big difference to our sustainability this week. Having a volunteer who was superman also helped. Request for shoes encouraged us to put out footwear. We also realised that cheaper brands of tins tend not to have ring pulls so you need a tin opener and many don't have tin openers so we started to maintain a stock of tin openers.
We started to develop zones in church so that volunteers can easily maintain a safe distance. This allowed us to sort  a lot of clothes items that had previously been donated ready to open the clothes area. We had many requests for clothing particularly from the men attending.

WEEK Eleven beginning 25th May

This week saw us forge links with some hotels who were beginning to think about opening up and found short dated milk (Premier Inn) and breakfast boxes (Travelodge). One of our volunteer decided it was so busy that they needed to escape by climbing over the chairs.
This week also saw us  hear about some successful grant applications and we are well on our way to funding an Operation Manager for the Food & Toiletries Bank. This post will be crucial if we are to continue with the current "pandemic mode" plus look to reopen the free cafe and games, crafts and jigsaw activities that we have in "normal circumstances". 

WEEK Twelve beginning 1st June

Premier Foods donated 31 large hampers full of some great stuff for the food bank. The Hygiene Bank also provided a lot of cleaning products for us to give out. Luke Skywalker joined us as a volunteer. We made big progress in getting the clothing bank open and had some clothes available. 
Over the last few weeks we had received 80 boxes of food from the Council Hub in Doncaster with money donated by Direct Line, Arena Racing Co and Suez UK. This has been a massive help.

WEEK Thirteen beginning 8th June

This was a big week for us as we got the household items open and started trialling opening the clothes bank. All went reasonably well and we made some adjustments as we went along. We had a lot of books and magazine donated from Doncaster Stories and publishers Bloomsbury. There has been a massive positive response to these from local families. 
In another new development we have started getting flowers from supermarkets as part of our pickups, these have been very well received and have allowed people a treat, to give flowers to loved ones, put flowers on a grave for the first time in a long time. 
You can see pictures from our regular pickups from FoodAWARE CIC at Hellaby; Tesco and ASDA via FareShare and M&S via Neighbourly; without whom we would not be sustainable.

Where can we bring donations?

To St John the Evangelist, on the corner of Balby Road and Greenfield Lane,  Balby DN4 0PT

Mondays, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday between 8:30 and 12

Can we donate money? Yes Please!

Parish Giving Scheme (PGS)

Donations can be made on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis by Direct Debit using a PGS gift form. 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.

You can set this all up by calling the dedicated telephone number: 0333 002 1271

Lines are open Monday to Friday, between 9 – 5pm.
You will need to have your bank account details,
church/parish name: BLW Youth & Community Fund
and PGS parish code to hand: 35A635187 

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