Help support our network of foodbanks this summer

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Issue 186 - 10 August 2017

Dear Friend,

Hi, I’m Lucy, and I would like to tell you about my role as a Foodbank Manager at one of The Trussell Trust’s network of foodbanks. In brief, I’m here to oversee the workings of the distribution centres and warehouse, making sure that those facing crisis in my community are able to access emergency food, information and signposting, in practice my role is wide-ranging.
No two days are the same. One day I might be sorting tins in the warehouse and the next doing a presentation to school children. I really enjoy what I do, but it can be challenging at times. Seeing people arrive physically exhausted and emotional drained because they haven’t eaten for days is heart-breaking. But when I see the courage it takes for someone to take that leap of faith and venture through that door into the unknown I am humbled and inspired.
We know that it is scary coming to a foodbank. People don’t know what to expect, and worry that their situation will be judged or criticised by strangers, but this couldn’t be further from the trust. Our dedicated volunteers offer everyone who walks through the door the same friendly and compassionate welcome. They get warm meal and an opportunity to talk through, and find solutions to some of their problems. We provide not only much needed emergency relief, but help stabilise the situation enough to give some breathing space. We want people to leave with a full stomach, some supplies to keep them going for the next few days and some next steps. We want them to leave knowing that they are cared for, valued and feeling hopeful, not filled with dread about the future.
Volunteers are the lifeblood of the foodbank network. They give up their time day after day to ensure people in their community receive the help and support they urgently need, and it is up to me to provide thorough training and assistance so their time makes the maximum impact to some of the most vulnerable people in our communities.
Our volunteers need to have access to comprehensive training and resources to be able to support clients become more emotionally and financially resilient. A gift from you today could help provide opportunities and training to people who want to give their time to help their community.
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As well as supporting foodbank volunteers, I also work closely with the agencies and organisations who refer clients or provide subsequent support to them. It is really important that I have regular catch-ups to discuss what services they have to offer, and how best people can access them, so I can ensure volunteers are keep up-to-date. 

So far, I haven’t talked about the actual management and delivery of the food. It may seem simple, but in fact there is a big operation happening behind the scene. Some of the food we collect from supermarket collection points, and some is delivered straight to our warehouse by the public. All the food is weighted and sorted so we can effectively monitor stock levels. Distributing the food to the distribution centres and agencies takes time, and we spend hours every day making up food parcels and moving food to where it is needed.
We are so grateful for the food people donate, it is so vital. However, without the essentials like warehousing, shelving, transport, and even light bulbs, we couldn’t distribute the food that is so kindly donated and desperately needed. A gift today could help the Trust support its network of foodbanks with delivering their essential work.   
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Being part of The Trussell Trust’s network benefits our foodbank in a number of ways. The main way is that it means we can offer a professional service to our clients. We receive training and support to help us run and manage our foodbank to a professional standard, meaning that everyone who comes to us can be given the best care.
Another advantage of being part of the network is that we are able to use the Trust’s data collection system to monitor foodbank usage. Recording exactly how much someone has been feed and why, can help reduce reliance on emergency food, as we can liaise with agencies to find additional support when needed. By using this system we get access to statistics for our local area, which enables us to get insight into where there is need so we can proactively address it.
Through the use of our data and our participant in the network we are able to be part of a national voice for those struggling in crisis. By contributing to research projects and reports, we can share the experiences of people helped by foodbanks with governing administrations, engage decision makers and offer practical solutions to poverty.
I am proud to say that my foodbank is part of The Trussell Trust’s network. Not only does it offer the tools and support I need to run my foodbank effectively, but it also means we carry a reputation that means people trust us and want to be involved with our work.
The Trust currently supports over 420 foodbanks over the UK providing vital assistance to people who find themselves in a desperate situation – but sadly the demand for foodbank has continued to grow, and in now greater than ever. The recent general election brought a period of instability, meaning that regrettably thousands of people across the UK will still have to turn to a foodbank to feed themselves and their families.
The Trussell Trust needs to be there to continue to provide support so that people can start to move past their crisis point and onto longer term planning.
Food donations are the lifeblood of the work we do but the fact is, we cannot do the work we do without the kind donations of our supporters. Any support you can give us today will enable us to help vulnerable people in your area.
Thank you

Lucy Duffy
Foodbank Manager
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