I regularly volunteer at our local foodbank and have been doing so since 2018. Our local foodbank hands out food on a Tuesday, Friday and Saturday as well as providing a sit-down cooked meal to over a hundred people on Fridays. It also offers a cafe, sewing repairs, advice on benefits and help with reading and writing. The numbers of users have swelled over the years but more so in the last year - probably a lot to do with Ukrainian immigrants and the cost of living crisis. My role has been mainly to bag up a selection of food and hand it out but have also sat many times at the sewing machine and done all sorts of repairs to unravelling seams, torn material, missing buttons and changing the size to fit better where people have lost weight.
The church that runs it has acquired two huge shipping containers in its grounds to fill with donated tins and packets. We regularly collect from the supermarkets that donate food close to use-by dates and of course passers-by drop off bags of food. We also get a lot donated by schools at harvest festival time. However, with more users and less donors because of the cost of living crisis (and the fact that our foodbank has become well-known for being generous), the stocks have dwindled and the church has had to dig deep into its pockets to buy food to supplement the supply.
As a result, it was decided to open a local charity shop to augment the foodbank purse. We secured a shop in one of the neighbouring High Streets and have been kitting it out for the last two weeks - the usual charity shop type of thing selling clothes, shoes, toys, ornaments, books, CDs and DVDs. I have dipped in on several occasions to sort clothes, make sure they were suitable for sale, and sort them into colour and size order in the shop. On Friday, I was busy pricing a lot of items up with tags. The shop was officially opened on Saturday by the local MP, who has always taken an interest in the foodbank. I shall help out in the future on an ad hoc basis to work in the shop and that will give me something else to do that is worthwhile, whilst still helping at the foodbank itself. On the opening day last Saturday, we took over £1600, so that will help the foodbank, although with over 250 users that will provide no more than £6 per person and of course, rent and services have to be paid on the shop.
Hopefully the initial euphoria of a new shop on the High Street will not wane and we will keep up this kind of sale on a regular basis. If not, the service we hope to provide to our users will fall into question of its future.
|Opening day of the new shop|