Foodbanks across Leeds are in need of volunteers to help cope with the soaring demand of families turning to them for help. Foodbank managers have warned that demand looks set to treble this Christmas and there won’t be enough supplies to go round.
Despite a stock level of more than 16 tonnes of food between them, they estimate that they still need to collect at least a further seven tonnes of food to even come close to meeting demand over the festive break.
In just over a year in Leeds, under the banner of the Trussell Trust, almost 20 foodbanks have opened. By the end of 2015, there are expected to be at least a further 14. Between them they will need to recruit more than 300 volunteers - from van driver to supermarket collections manager and IT support.
Kathryn Fitzsimons, vicar of the Church of Epiphany in Gipton and chair of Leeds East Foodbank committee, said: “Whatever our belief or faith, we are conscious of a call to look out for people other than ourselves and to do so through supporting a foodbank - either by giving money or food or giving time - will enable us as a city to overcome some of these hardships.
“One of the things about being a volunteer is that it raises your awareness of what’s really going on. Many people have no idea, they think people that use foodbanks are scroungers or dossers but actually when you hear their stories you realise these people are just like you and me.”
Many foodbank volunteers started out as service users and after receiving that support to get their lives on track, decided they wanted to give something back. For some it has been a stepping stone into paid work, providing them with invaluable work experience. Dale said: “It’s so simple, just come in and fill in an application form. It’s good for your CV. It’s great work experience with the number of hours you can clock up – plus it’s knowing you can help people.”
MAKE A FOOD DONATION
Special collection points are also available to drop food off around the city to support foodbanks:
East Leeds: Oxford Place Methodist Centre, on Mon and Thur, 2pm to 6.30pm.
North Leeds: Moor Allerton Methodist Church, Alderton Rise, on Mon, Wed and Fri from 11am to 1pm; or Lister Hill Baptist Church, Horsforth, 2pm to 4pm on Wed, 10am to noon Sat; Tesco, Roundhay Road, seven days a week.
St John and St Barnabas Church, Belle Isle Road, LS10 3DN, on Wed from 9.30am to 4pm; and Hunslet Methodist Church, Telford Terrace on Wed from 10am to noon.
West Leeds: Tesco in Bramley, all week; Morrish Solicitors in Pudsey, Mon to Fri office hours, and The Mill Kitchen, in Farsley, seven days.
Adapted from the Yorkshire Evening Post