Asda and Burngreave Foodbank’s volunteer heroes help people get food bank help safely during COVID-19

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Asda have been helping people who need food banks during the coronavirus pandemic by supporting the Trussell Trust to develop a digital system that makes sure anyone who needs a food bank, but is unable to leave their home, can still access vital support.

Every food bank in the Trussell Trust network works with a range of local organizations, like a housing association or local Citizens Advice, that refer people for emergency support. These organisations can assess whether someone is in need of a food bank and before the pandemic, they could provide people in-person with a paper voucher for the food bank.

But when coronavirus hit, some people needing support couldn’t leave their homes, and some local organisations which normally give paper vouchers couldn’t physically open safely.

Asda’s support meant food banks could move local organisations that refer to them onto a digital system that didn’t need paper vouchers or an in-person meeting, making it safer for everyone involved, and ensuring people without enough money for food could still access emergency help.

At Burngreave Foodbank, volunteer superheroes Mark and Trish were unable to do their normal volunteering at the centre, but they volunteered from home and singlehandedly supported every local organisation that normally refers people to the food bank to move onto the digital system.

Their hard-work and dedication in helping all of the organisations who refer people to the food bank understand a whole new system meant local people could still access emergency help from the food bank safely throughout the outbreak.

Rachel Snow, project manager at Burngreave Foodbank explains:

“Since lockdown Mark and Trish haven’t been able to come into the food bank but offered their services working from home. They have single handedly contacted all the agencies that refer to us and supported them with moving over to digital referrals, dealing with phone calls from referrers who were having problems with the system and ensuring a smooth transition for us. 

“I honestly don’t know what I’d have done without their support in this way in the midst of all the chaos of the last few weeks. We moved to delivering all food parcels and using e-referrals only, and it’s mainly been down to their handling the entire e-referral transition for me that has enabled it to go as smoothly as it has.”