Christine Clark will be talking about her experiences of volunteering at Redbridge Foodbank at an East London Soroptimists event this month
I volunteer at Redbridge Foodbank, one of the 1,200 Trussell Trust foodbanks in UK. We provide a food and hygiene parcel for clients, designed to last around three days. The intention is to tide them over until their situation has improved. Most of the people who come to the foodbank are in financial difficulties due to low income or benefit changes or delays. However, we also have people who are sleeping rough on the streets, or who are having difficulties due to bereavement, health issues, redundancy, or who are asylum seekers.
Last year Redbridge Foodbank gave out over 6,000 food and hygiene parcels, an increase of almost 2000 on the previous year.
The role I play at the foodbank is to meet and greet the clients, welcoming them in a warm and friendly manner. They arrive with a referral voucher and I go through our “shopping list” with them while they tell me what things they needs. They are then able to have a hot drink and biscuits while their parcel is prepared. While they wait, I also chat with them and find out if there is any other help they need. I can then signpost them to the relevant organisations to support them. I also offer a friendly ear for a chat. Many of them are lonely and are glad of someone to talk to. The parcels given out contain, not only food supplies but also household essentials, such as washing powder and washing up liquid, and personal hygiene items such as shampoo, shower gel, tooth brushes and paste, sanitary protection, as well as nappies and baby food. The foodbank cannot, however, give out baby milk due to a United Nations ruling. We do not forget pets, as we also have dog and cat food available if required.
I am a member of East London Soroptimists and in my capacity as a foodbank volunteer I am giving a talk on the work of the foodbank on Tuesday 19 November. The talk will be taking place a Woodford Memorial Hall at 7:30pm. When I volunteer I do so as an independent person, not in my capacity as a Soroptimist.