The incredible work of Carlisle Foodbank has been given a boost by volunteers who have been helping the charity gear up for Christmas.
A string of businesses have been lending a hand in recent weeks including the Cumberland Building Society, which runs a scheme which allows its staff to spend a day helping out at a local charity.
Nikki Ion and Stacey Bradley were among those from The Cumberland who chose to volunteer at the West Tower Street charity.
Colleagues from the society did a shift at the foodbank on seven different days in December alone.
Foodbank manager, Stephanie Humes, said: “It is absolutely amazing to get this support – we couldn’t be here without our volunteers, they are what makes this place.”
The women spent their day working behind the scenes, as part of a team of volunteers sorting donations.
Nikki, 35, has worked for the Cumberland for 16 years, but this was her first time taking advantage of the one day a year she can use to volunteer.
“It’s the first community day I’ve done – you get carried away with work sometimes, but it is good to take time out to help others as part of our commitment to Kinder Banking,” she explained.
“It was definitely a thought-provoking experience. It really hit home: and made me realise what a fantastic job the food bank do with the resources they have.”
Stacey, 39, was also a first-time volunteer, and admitted that it had been an eye-opening experience to work alongside other foodbank volunteers.
“The way things are at the moment, it’s challenging for a lot of people. We spent part of the day packing children’s bags with the “shopping list” to last three days.”
Perhaps the biggest realisation for the women, was exactly what is required to help keep the foodbank in operation.
Stacey said: “It made me realise that, when going round the supermarket, grabbing an extra 20p or 30p tin of baked beans is something small to me, but could make big a difference to someone who needs it.
“Before I helped out, I would have just thought of buying pasta or rice, but after being there you realise how much more is needed. For example, buying the multi-pack boxes of porridge, which can be broken up and given to multiple children for breakfast.”
For Nikki, it also won’t be the last time she helps out the charity.
She said: “It was really humbling to know that, while what I did was small, I have done something to make a difference to someone.”
Carlisle Foodbank, like so many charities, is not only seeing a rise in demand for its services, but also a drop off in people making donations.
Earlier this year, the food bank completely ran out of food.
Stephanie explained: “September was our busiest month ever, in the 10 years we’ve been going – we saw more than 1,000 people. That’s an awful lot of people in just one month.
“The steps the Government has taken – the £66 energy grant per month – has helped slightly, but we are still seeing an increase on what we saw last year.
“And with the cost of living rising, we are seeing fewer donations. We just want people to know that you don’t have to do a lot to make a difference: if everyone just gave one item on our shopping list, then we would be fully stocked.”
If you are interested in volunteering or donating, then please email email@example.com or visit www.carlislefoodbank.org.uk/
Follow Carlisle Foodbank on the BanktheFood app for an up-to-date list of their most needed items.
Ring pulls on cans would be helpful especially for the homeless or alternatively tin openers could be donated.
- Tinned Food
- Fish (Tuna)
- Snacks (spaghetti, beans and sausages, macaroni cheese, ravioli etc.)
- Rice Pudding
- Pasta Sauce
- Sandwich Spreads/Paste
- Pot Noodles
- Dried Snacks (pasta in sauce, noodles, mug shots etc.)
- Cup a Soup
- UHT Milk
- Tea Bags
- Juice (low sugar)
- Ladies’ sanitary products
- Toilet roll
- Baby wipes
- Household cleaning products would also be accepted.
Carlisle World Shop – 1 Lowthians Lane Town Centre CA3 8JR
Carlisle City Council Civic Centre – Carlisle CA3 8QG.
Carlisle East Community Fire Station – Eastern Way CA1 3RA (This collection point now uses a bunker at front of premises with combination lock. Please ask at reception for the combination)
Glamour – 45 Broad St, Carlisle CA1 2AG
Carlisle Library – 11 Globe Lane, Carlisle CA3 8NX
The Body Shop – 70 Scotch Street Carlisle CA3 8PN
Asda – Chandler Way Carlisle CA3 0JQ (Only food bought in store)
Sainsbury’s – Church Street Carlisle CA2 5TF
Sainsbury’s Local – 54 Scotland Road Carlisle CA3 9DB
The Co-operative Store – King George Court, Warwick Bridge, Carlisle CA4 8SA
The Co-operative Store – Five Road Ends 28 Blackwell Road CA2 4EQ
Morrisons – Kingstown Rd, Carlisle CA3 0Q
Poundland – St Nicholas Gate Retail Park, London Rd, Carlisle CA1 2EA
Lonsdale 9 – Lonsdale St, Carlisle CA1 1BJ (by the bus station)
PLEASE CHECK WEBSITES OR STORES FOR OPENING TIMES