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The inspiring stories of food bank volunteers

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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:

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Scottish Tech Army: celebrating volunteer partnerships

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As a charity, we hugely value the time, skills, and experience provided by the network’s 28,000 food bank volunteers. As part of our commitment to them, we launched a project in March 2020 to provide all of the food banks in the Trussell Trust network with access to Assemble, a volunteer management system. Assemble is a comprehensive volunteering system focused on empowering and supporting volunteers, streamlining processes, and celebrating the impact and contribution made by both individuals and teams.

We’re delighted to now have over 100 food banks up and running on Assemble, something we couldn’t have done without the support of the Scottish Tech Army.

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Amazing fundraising in Aylesbury

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By Susan, Aylesbury

When the pandemic hit last year, I realised so many people were going through hardship and couldn’t afford the basics, such as food. So, I started thinking how I could help and do my bit for the community.

People contribute and support food banks in any way they can: some hold coffee mornings to raise money while others might make cakes. I love gardening and I have a big garden with lots of plants, so I thought why not share them with other people to support a good cause? In April 2020 I set up a stall outside my house and started selling my plants. The idea turned out to be a success and it was really appreciated by passers-by: it raised £700 for Aylesbury Foodbank.

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The State of Hunger  – a foundation for a plan to end the need for food banks

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By Tom Weekes, Research Manager

Yesterday the Trussell Trust released the second State of Hunger report, a comprehensive study of the scale and drivers of hunger in the UK. The report was launched at the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Ending the Need for Food Banks as part of a wide-ranging discussion of food bank use and destitution, including how to tackle the key drivers of both. The insight provided by the report provides the first step in developing a plan to ensure no one has to be forced to use a food bank.

The cross-party group heard from panellists including Crossbench Peer and former government advisor on social policy Dame Louise Casey, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s Helen Barnard, the Trussell Trust’s Emma Revie, and Conservative Peer and Chief Executive of the Legatum Institute Baroness Stroud.

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A nationwide writing challenge for kids!

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In the UK right now, more people than ever are facing extreme poverty, unable to afford the basics or put food on the table. Last year, food banks in our network gave out more than 2.5 million emergency food parcels to people in crisis – and almost a million of these were provided for children.

This simply isn’t right, but we know that together we can make change happen. More than 100,000 people have already signed up for our Hunger Free Future campaign, standing alongside us and people forced to use food banks to call for change. Will you join us?

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To reach a UK without the need for food banks, we must address structural racism

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Marcia Bluck, director of diversity and inclusion 

I want to start with a disclaimer – I’m not a victim. I create my own seat at the table. But we need to acknowledge why that can be harder for some to do than others 

Last month, the Commission on Race & Ethnic Disparities’ report was published, arguing that the term ‘institutional racism’ is overused, and that while impediments and disparities do exist for people from ethnic minority backgrounds, ‘very few of them are directly to do with racism’.  

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Acceptable? A poem calling for change

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This week, we released a brand new video of an incredible poem ‘Acceptable’ – have you seen it yet?

Written by Caroline, one of the thousands of people who’ve signed up to help us build a hunger free future, and read by food bank volunteers and staff from the UK, it describes what it’s really like to need to use a food bank, and should inspire us all to stop, reflect, and take action.

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Tropic Skincare helps build a hunger free future

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Tropic Skincare are standing with the Trussell Trust to build a hunger free future and a UK without the need for food banks. Within the first six months of the partnership, Tropic has raised an amazing £100,000 in support of our work. That is double the amount in half the time Tropic and the Trussell Trust were aiming for, which is astounding. We’re very grateful for this incredible support.

Between 1 April 2020 and 31 March 2021, a record 2.5 million emergency food parcels were given to people in crisis by food banks in the Trussell Trust network. That’s a shocking 33% increase in need on the previous year, and almost a million of these parcels went to children.

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Aneita’s story

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“Growing up, we lived in a flat in Bethnal Green that had no central heating. There were times we sat in the dark as there was no electricity.

It was a struggle. My mum had mental health issues that went undiagnosed and was left traumatised by domestic violence. There were no birthday parties, there were no friends around to play, our home never looked like my friends’ homes. I left at 18, lived in a homeless hostel for a while and then got my first flat. I had nothing, just the clothes I had. I had no one to turn to for help, I had no clue how to pay bills. When I had no money to top up the electricity, I would sit covered in blankets reading by candlelight. I had left school with no qualifications and suffered from depression as I had been through some really traumatic situations. I regularly went for days without eating. 

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The long read: an unprecedented year leads to record levels of need for food banks

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Our series of blogs deep-diving into what’s happening in food banks continues, as Research Manager Tom Weekes delves into today’s new statistics highlighting the record number of emergency food parcels distributed by our network in the last year

Over the last year food banks in the Trussell Trust network have been at the frontline of the national emergency caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. More people than ever have been tipped into financial crisis and a record six million people are currently receiving Universal Credit. Today’s figures from the Trussell Trust show just how precarious people’s finances have been.

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