We are always blown away by the incredible commitment of food bank volunteers. Faced with a year of change, face masks, and social distancing, the 28,000+ volunteers across the network have shown amazing resilience over the past year, adjusting to new ways of operating, moving to remote support, and processing unprecedented levels of donations and demand. Every day we are both inspired and humbled by the difference volunteers make, giving their time and expertise for free to help make us the best we can be.
As part of Volunteers’ Week, we’ve asked volunteers to share their stories and let us know what being a food bank volunteer means to them. Here’s what they told us:
Alice, Carrickfergus Foodbank
“Having lost our family home and business at the time of the financial crash, I know what it is to face crisis and to need support and come out the other side. I understand how people can feel embarrassed and sceptical about using a food bank, but so many when they come through the doors realise there is care and support. The fact that the food bank is confidential was a key factor for me.”
Anonymous, Norwich Foodbank
“I wanted to volunteer for the food bank, as I found the thought of fellow human beings in the UK going hungry so distressing. Being a shift worker, I could never really help out apart from money and the odd supermarket collection. When Covid hit and I was furloughed, I managed to get three shifts a week at the food bank warehouse. I’m welling up writing this, it totally saved me.
“I had no direction whatsoever in life except to the off licence, I don’t think I would have got through 2020 without knowing I was helping others, and this gave me a purpose to get up each day and appreciate life. Each shift was full of lovely people, we had a laugh, and then each Friday an email would arrive explaining how everyone’s efforts had contributed to helping others – it was such a lift. I went back to work in November a different person.”
Anonymous, North Liverpool Foodbank
“I started volunteering at the food bank originally as I was early on in recovery from alcoholism and mental health problems, and I knew I wasn’t quite ready for work. I needed to build my confidence up and felt this would be a good way to start. I suffer with anxiety and I don’t go out much due to this and ill health, so I was very isolated. I was nervous to start but I was made to feel part of the team straight away. The team were so supportive in the office and the food bank; they knew my background, yet any help I could offer was grateful welcomed.
“I have been shown nothing but kindness and care by the staff and volunteers. It’s like being part of a big family and that we matter just as much as the people visiting the food bank. It’s just a pleasure to volunteer there. My confidence is growing, I have a purpose now, and I feel like the experience could potentially lead to work. It has definitely been a great experience for me. One I can highly recommend!”