A jam-packed calendar of festive parties and extravagant Christmas shopping leaves most people with a dwindling bank balance by the end of December. However due to the recent roll out of Universal Credit (not yet rolled out in East Surrey but will be here soon), inflation, benefit cuts and the increasing cost of living in the UK, an alarming number of people have found themselves facing food poverty and in desperate need of emergency food supplies. Along with rising food prices, the cold weather means that vulnerable people often have to choose between heating their homes or feeding their families.
What can we do to help?
Many food banks are staffed by volunteers, and they always welcome a helping hand. Volunteering won’t cost you any money, it could improve your well being and make you feel really proud of yourself. It provides an opportunity to give back to your community, make new friends and gain new skills. There are a vast range of jobs available, including: organising the donations, handling administrative tasks, welcoming people into the food bank sessions, transporting donations to the warehouse, organising fundraising, volunteer recruitment and training, and managing finances.
- Organise a donation station at your workplace/ school/ college
An easy way to collect donations for your local food bank would be to set up a ‘donation station’ at work, school or college. It’s helpful if you can give your colleagues or classmates an idea of the type of donations that can be accepted by food bank. Generally speaking, tinned or dried foods are always included in emergency food parcels, and most food banks try to provide toiletries, hygiene and baby products to families. Fresh food and alcohol are not usually accepted. If in doubt, why not contact your local food bank directly and discuss their needs? More information on food bank parcels is available here.
Although food banks always welcome food donations, it can often be a challenge for them to raise sufficient funds for practical items such as phone bills and electricity bills. You could organise a fundraising event such as a cake sale, sponsored sports event or another challenge. The more people that you get involved, the better! It’s up to you how you do it, but it’s guaranteed that any funds raised will positively impact the lives of local people in crisis.
Guest Blogger: Katie McCall, Katie is a volunteer with the Trussell Trust and volunteers at their Manchester food bank.