Some of our wonderful volunteers visited Carlisle Foodbank today. This is what Matthew wrote about the experience:
Six of us from the Cumbria Law Centre (CLC) were fortunate enough to be able to visit a local foodbank. It was eye-opening to see the vast amount of work that the members of the organisation put into providing a service to those who need it. We discussed the correlation between problems with welfare benefits and the requirement of foodbank access for those with little or no money to live on. We were firstly talked through the assessment method that the volunteers work through when assessing the individual requirements of any given person (dietary requirements, pets, the age of the children they support etc). In addition to food, the foodbank also offer items such as toiletries, personal hygiene products and general household items.
I was curious about the foodbank’s ties to local businesses and whether they receive support from any of the local supermarkets in particular. Although they receive support from supermarkets, it is limited to certain products. I was happy to hear that Gregg’s provide leftover pastries at the end of their working day. Rotation of the stock which is provided is vital when donated food is often with such a short expiration date. We were talked through the rotation process with a short demonstration on how food is categorised and kept.
The issue of anonymity was made apparent. The foodbank recently relocated and some of the more vulnerable clients have been deterred due to the central location (in the vicinity of the train station, a busy pedestrian area). With the previous location being St Nicholas it was formerly a more secluded location which some clients preferred over the newer more public location.
We were there for about an hour overall but we could see that they were eager to get back to work. What could not be doubted was the depth of the work involved for those who volunteer and in addition to this, the generosity of donors.