Over 20,000 people will volunteer this weekend with their local foodbank in Tesco stores for part of the Neighbourhood Food Collection. They’re giving up their time to help raise awareness of poverty in their community and collect essential items, so when local people in crisis are referred, the foodbank is able to offer that vital help.
We asked foodbank managers across the UK whether they could nominate any particularly brilliant ‘Neighbourhood Food Collection Superstars’ and we’re thrilled with the positive response – there are a lot of fantastic volunteers out there this weekend! Here are just a few of their stories…
Superstar Jan (pictured right)
Jan has been volunteering with Slough Foodbank for over four years, and during that time has organised every one of their Tesco collections! She rallies and manages the volunteers, sets up the enquiries table, hands out shopping lists, tells people about the work of the foodbank, collects donations and drives donations back to the foodbank warehouse. Jan says:
“I joined Slough Foodbank in late 2011 – I was introduced to the foodbank by our local Vicar Rev Robin Grayson and felt I wanted to help. I was working in one or two of the distribution centres, learning the ropes, and then started to do occasional days in the office. My main energy is getting the volunteers ready for our Tesco collections. The feeling to help is still there, probably more so now because I could see the results of helping people and what it means to them.”
Sue, Slough Foodbank Manager who nominated Jan says:
“Without her passion to help and her huge commitment to the charity we simply could not have done what we have done at these collections. I have seen Jan at the point of utter exhaustion and yet she is still always smiling and always able to be loving and helpful.”
Sue is a full-time paediatric nurse and uses her time off to volunteer at Gloucester Foodbank. She specifically requests time off work to cover the Neighbourhood Food Collections at the Tesco Superstore in Gloucester for two days, 9-5pm. Her husband Steve frequently volunteers with her when he is not working as well. Speaking about her involvement in the collection, Sue says:
“I love doing it. I have always had a heart for social action. Meeting people, telling them the important job the foodbank does, explaining to them how it works and who we help. So many people are just one wage packet from poverty and needing our input. Although I work as a paediatric nurse full time, I really love being able to give something back to the community. I make sure that I request the time off work so that I can give it the full commitment.“
“I always find it amazing how generous some of the Tesco customers can be. It really makes it worthwhile when someone pushes a full trolley over to you, takes out a bag (which you are thinking they will give you) and then walks away leaving the whole trolley of food with you. Or a customer requests a volunteer to grab a second trolley to go round with them. They then fill it with items from the list – not just basic range but branded products. Or someone donates a couple of items saying that the foodbank had helped them last year and they were pleased to give something back.”
Anneliese, Gloucester Foodbank Manager who nominated Sue says:
“We cover three stores for three days so we have a lot of volunteers who support us! Sue not only uses her time off to work at the foodbank but specifically requests time off to cover the collections and man the store. I could cite a few more who help at every collection, for example John, Roni, Phil and Gerry – but that is only to name a few, all of them are amazing!”
Loise has been involved with Lewisham Foodbank since 2013, when the Tabernacle Church she goes were exploring the idea of opening a foodbank. She worked with Carol at Lewisham to open a new distribution centre for the foodbank, which she now manages. Loise says:
“The best part about the foodbank is when someone comes in really low, really deflated and then they realise that someone cares. They realise that we’re there because we want to be there not because we have to be, that they’re not alone, and they leave with a glimmer of hope. Bringing that hope is the best part.
The Tesco collection is part and parcel of our foodbank – without being able to collect the food we need, we just couldn’t function as a foodbank. People come to us with lots of problems and food is often just the symptom, but before we can address those underlying issues we need to be able to offer emergency food. Without that, it would be pointless for us being there. Collecting in Tesco means we can talk to people about the foodbank and collect items to make sure that when people come to us we can offer them support.”
Carol, Lewisham Foodbank, who nominated Loise says:
“When Tesco collection time comes around Loise gets a team of volunteers together, liaises with Lewisham Tesco and puts hours and hours of time into making the collection a success. She has done this for the last three years without complaint. Loise is reliable, committed, well organised, enthusiastic and we love her. She is a true superstar!”
Joy, Exeter Foodbank Manager, nominated Pete. She says:
“So many names come to mind but one is outstanding! I’d like to tell you about Pete, who’s has been part of Exeter Foodbank since it started in November 2008. In his spare time he organises the Tesco collections. Pete ensures that the rotas are manned with people who not only know what they are doing but also what they are talking about. He arrives early to set up and then at the start of each shift thanks the last team and encourages the next team. His inspirational way of organising the Tesco collection means that we collect the items that we need. Pete is like the proverbial stick of rock (and solid as a rock!) – snap him in two and you would read Exeter Foodbank all the way through! Let’s hear it for Pete!”
These are just a few of the thousands of people who get involved with volunteering at the Neighbourhood Food Collection. Thank you to each and every one of you.
If you’re taking part in this summer’s collection, make sure to share on Twitter why you’re get involved, by using #EveryCanHelps.
Find out more about the Neighbourhood Food Collection here and volunteering opportunities at The Trussell Trust here.