I found out about the foodbank at Waterloo via an online search and thought it would be a great way to offer my time to charity. I had worked in charity shops before but being able to see the immediate positive effect appealed to me so I decided to give it a go.
When I arrived, I was warmly welcomed and soon felt at home. I was starting out with a few other newbies so we were given a tour of the store room and a quick explanation of the voucher system (don’t worry, there’s always someone there to help when you need it!). I was amazed by the amount of stuff that was there! In fact the foodbank was lucky enough at that time to have everything needed in stock and even extra things that people had kindly and thoughtfully donated!
Once we’d had the tour, we had our first client arrive. I worked in the stock room gathering the items that were needed for the food parcel. The parcels are designed to last for 3 days although many people stretch them out to last longer. The clients can ask for specific requirements such as if they’re vegetarian and if they need certain toiletries. They can choose between tea or coffee, porridge or cereal and that sort of thing and this all get packed up for them to take away.
Meanwhile the clients sit upstairs with some other volunteers and can enjoy a cup of tea, some biscuits and have a chat. Some of the people who work at the foodbank are qualified to give financial advice and we also have a list of agencies to refer to if the client needs any other help or advice.
Once the parcel is packed and ready to go and the client has finished their tea or coffee they can take the, normally very heavy, bag of food with them and hopefully this will help them out a little.
Having done a few shifts at the foodbank now, I would definitely recommend it. All the volunteers have been super friendly and I’ve met some great people. The clients are always very appreciative of anything you can do and you genuinely get the feeling that you are helping people when they need it.