‘We’re just overwhelmed by this latest show of support from Beverley Building Society members’.
That was the reaction from Kate Leaf, Chair of East Yorkshire Food Bank, when we let her know we would be handing over another cheque for £1,000.
The money represents 50p for every vote cast at this year’s online AGM. And, because we weren’t able to invite members to our usual in-person event and buffet, we’ve donated the money we saved on providing food, to round up the amount to £1,000.
It will once again be used to help ensure families who’ve fallen on the hardest of times as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, needn’t go hungry. Our last donation of £1,000 was just before Christmas, 2020, and represented a combination of two months’ ‘Charity of the Month’ donations, plus the money we would have spent on a Christmas party for our team.
“We’re especially grateful for ongoing donations like this because there’s always a danger, once the weather gets warmer and the sun starts shining, that people think the issue of poverty in the region somehow disappears,” added Kate.
“However, unfortunately, that’s not the case and we continue to see record demand, with many families only now feeling the delayed impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, as the government-backed furlough schemes draw to a close.”
Our Chief Executive, Karl Elliott, explained why the Society decided to contribute to the Foodbank once again. “Contributing to the prosperity of our regional community is really important to us and we were just so touched by hearing of some of the hardship being experienced by families – and in particular children – in our region, in the run-up to Christmas, that we couldn’t not try to do something to help, back then and now.
“It’s unthinkable to us that such issues still exist in today’s society, and the cases the Foodbank team are seeing demonstrate that, really, absolutely anyone can fall into difficulties, through no fault of their own.”
There when people needed them most
Everyone has their own COVID story to tell, and it’s fair to say that most will feature some form of personal challenge, be that ill health, bereavement, loneliness or the mental health issues which can come with living amidst such uncertainty.
However, of course, many people have lost their livelihoods as well, with many sectors hit hard by enforced lockdown closures. And those worst-hit are even struggling to put food on the table, which is why this has been the Foodbank’s busiest year ever.
More than 27, 600 people live below the poverty line in this area, and this number has inevitably risen during the pandemic. Project Manager, Mandy Thomlinson, explained that the need is therefore more critical than ever. The Foodbank has seen more demand than ever before, with many of those going hungry, children.
“Between 1 April and 31 March 2021, we provided food to feed over 9,000 people across the county,” she explained. “This compares to 3,500 during 2019/2020. Of the 9,000 who needed our support last year, over 40 per cent were children.”
Mandy added that the people currently welcoming their support are a diverse mix, too.
“People perhaps have preconceived ideas of who might need to ask for help from a Foodbank like ours, but we’ve had people come forward from literally every walk of life, this year, including professional people who’ve had good jobs previously but found themselves out of work. They’ve been hugely grateful for the help provided, and typically say they don’t know what they would have done without it.”
She continued: “It’s great that there are now signs of hope on the horizon, in terms of the Government’s lockdown easing roadmap back towards some sense of normality, albeit delayed by a few weeks.
“However, the sad reality we see is that there is likely to be more heartache to come, as the full economic impact of COVID-19 unfolds, and we’re planning to continue meeting unprecedented demand for some considerable time to come. For some people, sadly, things will inevitably get worse before they get better.
“So, with that in mind, we hope that the Beverley’s donation will inspire other organisations and individuals to come forward and help us to make sure no-one ever has to go hungry, no matter how tough things get.”
Trustee David Bird added: “The funds we receive from businesses like Beverley Building Society are vital and very much appreciated, because they pay for the vans and other infrastructure that enable us to pick up food people donate via local supermarkets and other venues, and deliver it to those that need it most.”
As a result of the spike in demand, this has been the first year the charity has had to purchase food direct from wholesalers, rather than relying just on donations of essentials from members of the public at venues like supermarkets. Other local businesses have been kind enough to come forward to offer their support, too, including the Pig & Whistle Bistro and Fresh & Fruity greengrocers in the town, which have both given food to the charity for special occasions like Christmas.
Years of making a difference
East Yorkshire Foodbank opened in May, 2016, to give people in crisis hope, practical help, and a brighter future. The charity provides three days’ nutritionally-balanced emergency food and support to local people who are referred to them in crisis.
The Foodbank is a project founded by local churches and community groups, working together towards stopping hunger in the local area. They are part of a nationwide network of foodbanks, supported by The Trussell Trust, working to combat poverty and hunger across the UK.
The Foodbank Network was founded in 2004 after four years of developing the original foodbank based in Salisbury. Since then, The Trussell Trust has helped communities work together to launch foodbanks nationwide, in a wide range of towns and cities.
In 2019/20, The Trussell Trust’s Foodbank Network provided 1,900,122 three-day emergency food supplies and support to UK people in crisis. Of these, 720,504 went to children.
For more information about the East Yorkshire Foodbank please visit its website
To contact the foodbank, ring 01482 772060 or email the team.