Our continuing adventures of running a Food & Toiletries Bank during a pandemic - numbers needing help continue to grow
Part 4 of our Continuing Adventures of Running a Food & Toiletries Bank during a pandemic. Weeks 14-17
A period when we started to think long term that Food Bank was now the core part of Given Freely Freely Given and other things we did revolved around the provision of these items. We started to redesign how we organised ourselves in the physical space we have in church to accommodate this mind set. We first coined the term "MultiiBank" as an expression that around a core of Food many other items are offered to help people in poverty in their daily lives. Can you help? Yeswe 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, bedding, towels and small household items, clothing for 10-15 year olds
We got more requests for deliveries and helped more than 200 people every week. We have also had 3 of our 4 busiest days since the pandemic began. We were also very thankful that Doncaster Council sustained the great help they have provided throughout the pandemic. Very grateful that the work with FareShare and Neighbourly continued to provide food destined for landfill from supermarkets. The FoodAware and Hygiene Bank continued to be major support and we are pleased to forge new partnerships with The Food Works in Sheffield.
WEEK Fourteen beginning 15th June
A week of consolidation in the Food Bank as much happens behind the scenes as we sort bedding and household items. We also get record amounts of fresh food donations from Tesco that are shown in the photo. Donations also begin from ASDA Springwell lane. Like FoodAware in Hellaby, The FoodWorks in Sheffield intercept palletts that are heading for land fill. Sometimes the pallets have the odd box of toys as well as food. So also shown are the toys we got from FoodWorks which they had no way of using. We have been giving them out to families in need.
WEEK Fifteen beginning 22nd June
Many of the men appreciate the focus on Men's clothing and we cannot get enough items. Womens clothing continue to trickle in with the Men's clothing donations in sufficient amounts to satisfy demand. We start to try and build up stocks of children's clothing from 0 -15. Our volunteer area starts to take shape with lockers and a coat rail. Many, many children benefit from the toys, easter eggs, books and magazine we have received as discussed earlier. We even have permission to show some of the photos.
WEEK Sixteen beginning 29th June
A week that saw the volunteer area finished, the worship area in church made ready for Sunday worship and future planning for the "MulitBank" to take shape. Some photos are shown of the food bank area to give an idea of how large this has grown. This was the moment we needed more space for food and the final push to move to a larger area. Two of the volunteers were very pleased when they managed to fix a push chair, an example of many "special" items we have been able to help families using targeted appeals on Facebook. We also now have a defined storage area for items for the homeless such as tents, sleeping bags and coats. A defined specialised clothing area, small electrical items area, and games area.
WEEK Seventeen beginning 6th July
MultiBank concept came together this week and we moved the food bank, this allowed us to serve people quicker and with more items. We continued to meet a big demand for mens clothes. We saw our busiest day of the whole pandemic with 55 attending church and 10 more deliveries. We continued to get ad hoc donations from hotels that find short dated products, this is milk from Premier Inn.
So seventeen weeks on and its been an astonishing time, some words from our volunteers:
Although it’s fantastic what we do at St John’s every week; it’s so sad that it is needed in 2020 😢
The excess food production is wrong
The need is wrong
The benefit system is wrong
But at least groups like ours can ensure the excess that is created and would be wasted goes to those who are in need and that world is a slightly better place to be for those less fortunate, on hard times or that the system has failed, the latter of which there seems to be a fair few of. I have always seen the system as flawed and leaving people vulnerable but I did not imagine it was as bad as it actually is. I would no longer class the system as flawed but as a failure. Society is structured in a way that keeps the rich rich and makes the poor poorer. And it’s all to do with those who have the power and the control. It’s all deception and slight of hand and unfortunately the mass population don’t see what is going on right in front of them. I would have said my eyes were open before but after seeing and hearing the stories of the people we are genuinely helping and the system is repeatedly failing I would say my eyes have been opened more.
I thought I had seen a lot of life - I had worked in the Jobcentre, mental health and prison - but I had only seen the surface.
Going to Balby has made me realise I had lived and worked in a comfortable bubble and my eyes were opened. If those in power could see the everyday life of those we meet, surely something would change, but I am a cynic by nature and I think it would be water off a duck’s back.
And everyone plays a part, like a jigsaw we have to have all the pieces or it will not make the whole picture.
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