The past year has forced many of us to adapt how we do life. We have become used to technology that we had never heard of before 2020. New language such as “should we Zoom later?” or “you’re on mute” has entered our vocabulary and actual in-person interaction has become almost as exciting as going on holiday.

Many of you know that, because the distribution centres had to close, our Bath Foodbank had to adapt to a new system of home delivery.

Yet adapting to these challenges has also created new opportunities to support those in need. For example, since the build up to Christmas every Foodbank parcel includes a card with a contact number and invitation to call, together with other useful numbers. Now volunteers can follow-up deliveries with a chat about the delivery and to see if there are any other needs.

It has been very helpful, for example, in making sure that food parcels meet any dietary needs and has enabled the volunteers to “signpost”, or direct, the clients for further dedicated support. Here are just a couple of examples:

  • One person had a benefits application turned down and did not feel up to challenging it until the volunteer was able to show him that he could get help from Citizens Advice.
  • Another client was struggling with a bereavement and a volunteer was able to tell them about a bereavement care charity called CRUSE, which helped the person get a step closer to the support they needed.

These calls have also been meeting the deeper needs of relationship and empowerment.

Volunteers have found that some people they have called have simply wanted to chat because of isolation and loneliness due to the pandemic. One client said that they had not spoken to anyone for two weeks and was very appreciative of the follow-up phone call.

Jo Ayres, a Foodbank volunteer who is leading the telephone team, said that the opportunity for the extra contact is empowering for the client.

“When we are delivering to peoples’ flats it’s not always the best time to have a chat at that point. One person called to say thank you which then led to a conversation. Being able to actively say thank you is empowering. Being in receipt of charity can be dis-empowering.”

Perhaps reading this has encouraged you to be involved with Genesis Trust. We could not do what we do without volunteer support and as things begin to open up again over the next few months we will be able to let you know about volunteering opportunities. So please stay tuned in to future newsletters!