Volunteer Story – Jackie, Bath Foodbank

Jackie has been volunteering for Bath Foodbank for nearly two years.  We recently asked Jackie to tell us a little more about what has changed about her volunteering role since the beginning of COVID-19.

There have been several changes, which were required to be able to continue to support the clients in the national crisis.

1. Referrals are now done on computers, not paper, so this gives us advanced notice of the number of clients requiring food parcels during each session that we are open.

2. Working together, all centres and functions are now in one place, so we can pool resources and reduce movement across the city.

3. Not seeing the clients face-to-face. This has had a negative effect as it is harder to make the parcels personal and we have lost the ability to connect with the people. However, this makes the food parcels more consistent for people.

4. Working closer and seeing all the different teams for the foodbank, the warehouse staff especially.

5. Longer shifts.

6. Dealing with and packing ‘extras’ such as fresh food and toys for children.

7. We nominate shift supervisors, so we are able to keep consistency and problem solve if needed with the team.

8. Working with the British Gas drivers who are currently helping us to deliver parcels direct to client’s homes.

9. Checking stock and keeping stock areas tidy

As a supervisor it is good to help work with the team on a number of aspects and encourage confidence and good team work and to help it run smoothly.”

We also asked Jackie what the most unusual or exciting items they have seen donated to the foodbank recently.

“We received an amazing number of Easter Eggs and it was really lovely for us to add these to parcels to raise the spirits of clients and for the children to enjoy. This was important to be part of celebrating a national bank holiday”.

“Another wonderful donation has been face masks for the volunteers to wear. Individuals and local businesses have been donating these so we can support clients and stay as safe as possible”.

“Other unusual items tend to be non food items such as candles and books.  We often also receive toys but it is lovely to be able to include those in parcels for families who are struggling – they bring such joy!”

We recognise the COVID-19 situation is constantly evolving and changing but asked Jackie how people can continue (or start) to support Bath Foodbank at the moment.

“We encourage people to buy items to donate which are on our list of current needs (this is on our Facebook and Twitter pages).  Those items are regularly put in food parcels but our supplies are running short.  We have donation points in most of the local supermarkets after the checkouts.  If you can’t get to a supermarket because you are shielding but want to support you can make a monetary donation to support the costs of delivering parcels.  Finally, if you don’t have access to the current list but want to buy items we are always in need of toilet rolls, tins of tomatoes, UHT fruit juice, tins of fruit and shampoo”.