Like many other charities, Launceston Foodbank’s main focus throughout the current pandemic has been to remain open and continue providing help to those in our community who need support, writes Yvonne King, Launceston Foodbank manager.
We take solace and enormous pride in having kept the foodbank open with the help and dedication from our staff, volunteers and management committee.
Without the amazing donations made by the people of Launceston, local supermarkets and businesses, we couldn’t operate. We are incredibly lucky that we do not have to buy food but we do hold a contingency fund in case of shortages.
We do not charge for food, delivery or other items such as clothing, bedding, etc given in crisis. We are a registered charity with the charity commission and a limited company with a management committee and trustees overseeing our whole project, which includes our charity shop, also on Newport Industrial Estate (although currently closed due to the current lockdown).
It’s been hard having to change the way we operate; no longer can we have 'our doors open' to welcome people in for a cuppa and a chat whilst their food parcels are prepared. The personal touch we pride ourselves in has gone for now; at present we talk through the open window across a table so we still have face to face contact, but it isn’t the same.
Sometimes when the world seems cruel and you feel you are walking around with concrete boots on; a chat about anything but your problems helps so much. We do feel the anguish and heartache many are going through and it not only stays with us all but it makes us stronger and more determined to do whatever we can. We are extremely fortunate that we work with over a hundred different agencies ranging from local schools to addiction groups, churches to social care. These agencies not only issue foodbank vouchers but they are there for us to signpost our clients onto them or ask them for their advice on how to help someone. This working partnership is vital to the working of the foodbank and we thank all agencies that are working in unusual and difficult circumstances.
Mental health is mentioned constantly on the news and social media; do not underestimate the many, many reasons why someone struggles. It’s not easy to understand nor is it easy to ask for help. You may ask yourself, what has this got to do with food parcels; but it has everything to do with the food we give, as this is an act of kindness and kindness means a great deal when the world is against you. No matter how small that act is it really can make the difference between a good or a bad day; never underestimate a smile, hello or a how are you feeling today.
We saw at Christmas how much people just wanted to do something to make Christmas more bearable for those less fortunate than themselves; donations of food, chocolates, biscuits and presents came in quantities we had never seen before. We made up and delivered 136 hampers of food for Christmas day including meat vouchers and helped many parents have presents to wrap for their children.
None of us know what is around the corner nor what the future holds, but if the past year has achieved anything, then it is the importance of thinking of others.