When visiting Camden food bank last month to deliver the boxes of food donated by our generous colleagues, myself, Zoe Lewis and Alisa Rus were honoured to meet some of the amazing volunteers who selflessly donate their time week-in, week-out, to help feed individuals and families in need in the local area. In fact, some of the volunteers are so committed that they have not broken this pattern for the last four years!
Inspired by their tenacity and enthusiasm to do good, we knew we wanted to support them however we could. We offered our help and arranged a volunteering day a few weeks later on 4th April.
On the day, myself, Zoe and Faye Brookes arrived at the food bank and it was great to catch up with some of the volunteers. They were all incredibly appreciative, not only to see the boxes of Easter eggs and fresh fruit that we’d brought with us, but of our assistance on what they described as a typically ‘busy day’.
Now I’m not sure about you, and perhaps this is my naivety emerging, but when I tried to visualise what a food bank might look like I’d always imagined large warehouses of food and a regimented system with strict processes and guidelines, just as you’d imagine a warehouse of a profitable business to operate. However, the food bank itself told a different story, and I was amazed at the contrast of what I had imagined versus reality.
Located down a small alley off the main road, Camden food bank could only really be described as the first floor of a house. The Trussell Trust is a nationwide charity that provides aid to millions of people across the country but, with no government support, the lack of budget was clear and it was apparent that The Trussell Trust genuinely relies on the generosity and unselfishness of the public.
Before we got stuck in, we were given a tour of the building and assigned roles which we’d rotate throughout the day. The roles varied and included meeting and greeting the long queue of customers, unloading and sorting the vast number of donations into different piles, handing out food parcels and logging tickets onto the system.
In the main room were many crates of all kinds of products stacked as high as you could possibly reach. Donations of food, toiletries, and other necessities that would then be used to create the parcels handed out later that day. I think we could all agree, we’ve never seen that many baked beans in all our life!
As the day progressed we had the privilege of meeting some of the users of the food bank and experienced their sincere gratitude as parcels were handed out.
As we all knew it would be, the whole day was incredibly rewarding and it felt great to not only relieve the regular volunteers of some tasks that they usually have to get through on their own, but most importantly, to know that the support we provided throughout the day would help prevent people in genuine need from going hungry.
For anyone who is considering volunteering in the future, I know how easy it is to be deterred when the reality that you can only do so much hits you. As we zoom out our lens, it can often feel like any help you do give is going to be somewhat valueless, like a small drop in a vast ocean. Our volunteering day on 4th April is most certainly not going to stop UK hunger, neither is the loyalty of the food bank’s regular volunteers; however my experience has taught me that you can make a significant difference to a family’s life, and that is absolutely worth doing.
If you would like to make a donation to The Trussell Trust, please click here.