Setting up a Foodbank

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, people across Sheffield have been rolling up their sleeves & coming together (whilst maintaining social distancing) to support the community. The existing organisations, projects & groups that never stopped supporting their community continue to do amazing work! There have also been new developments in the response to the current situation, like Longley 4 Greens Community Centre Foodbank. We caught up with some of the team to find out what it’s like to be involved in the Foodbank.

L4G Foodbank Team
L4G Foodbank Team

Ellen Summer (Centres Manager) said that the centre has had a long-standing relationship with FareShare before Coronavirus & made use of the food supplied for groups & help out with the people in the Longley area when needed. “FareShare contacted me to see if we could use the food so we started doing a delivery service on a trial basis. At first, we had referrals from SOAR colleagues & we put the word out on social media. Within 2 weeks the demand was huge, so we decided that we needed to make it an official Foodbank. From the work with Community Hubs, we knew that VAS had set up an emergency food response & a network for city Foodbanks so this was fairly easy to do. We’ve now joined the Foodbank network so we get regular updates & meet with other Foodbanks on a weekly Zoom meeting & submit stats for VAS to collate.

Being part of the network has enabled us to form relationships with other Foodbanks so we can share good practice, contracts for food & surplus as well as discussing our plans for food support post-lockdown. We know that there are other Foodbanks in the area & we want to work alongside them as long as there is a need for the service. We have developed a new referral form in line with other Foodbanks & we are collating data in the same way so that we & VAS can monitor the need across the city.”

Ian Stanley, alongside a team of volunteers, helps out weekly. He said “it feels like the right thing to do, supporting those who might be struggling financially/mentally during lockdown. I arrive at 12.30pm with a mask & gloves. There’s not a great deal of chat whilst packing the food parcels because we’re all wearing masks, but we do ask questions at the start (how are you doing etc.) The management of referrals has been refined since the start & is managed well. It’s great to see people & have the opportunity to have a quick chat. In some cases, it can be very emotional!”

A big shout out to everyone who continues to support their community & to those who have helped out at Longley 4 Greens Community Centre including Aspire!