A helping hand during lockdown and beyond…
At the end of March, like a lot of other people I found myself furloughed from work and in lockdown! Well, that would be OK wouldn’t it – do all the jobs I never get around to doing and relax a little more…?
All was well for the first few weeks, in fact I was busy and wondered how I found the time to work at all! Then I suddenly realised that I was envious of key workers. Imagine having to go to work during this unsettling time because the nation depended on you? I found myself wishing I could too, but what skills did I have to offer? Nothing in particular, but I was sure I could do something voluntary and surely someone needed an extra pair of hands?
Although a trustee for Woodside Animal Sanctuary, they had gone into total lockdown to keep staff safe, so I couldn’t go there and help.
I therefore got in touch with an ex ADG work colleague and sure enough, she bit my hand off, so I joined the volunteers at Provide Devon and am proud to be a part of this fantastic charity. I enjoy being able to give something back and the satisfaction of being able to help is just amazing.
Provide Devon was set up 2 years ago and is a crisis food provider working with referral agents such as churches, NHS, schools, housing associations, social services and other food charities etc. They not only supply the basic staples, but also fresh vegetables, fruit and chilled foods as well as hygiene essentials if required, which is quite a rarity. They also cater for those with food intolerances, as well as those who only have access to a kettle for instance. They are self-funded and rely on grants, donations and links with food partners (such as Warburtons, Co-op Retail and Tamar Fresh).
A typical volunteer shift is never the same. The unit they work from is very small and I am amazed at how much food they can store with a bit of imagination. On my volunteer days these are some of the jobs I might typically be involved in…
- As donations have to be quarantined for 72 hours, my first job is always to get the donations that are ready, date checked and on the shelf.
- Put any donations that have been dropped off that day into quarantine.
- Prepare packs for the NHS so they are ready to go (minus the chilled goods of course) – and these are a mixture of standard, diabetic, vegetarian and gluten free.
- Prepare and pack any crisis requests.
- Re stock the shelves.
- Date check the food.
- Put together bulk food items for large groups which may be going out to a church or school.
- Packing away the fresh milk, cheese, butter and vegetables and fruit.
- And anything else which may be thrown at you on the day!
Requests for food can be made due to financial poverty, mental health matters, fleeing domestic abuse, bereavement or a sudden change in circumstances.
Now for some vital statistics. In 2019 Provide Devon fed 2,000 people. In 2020 due to Covid they have fed 11,000 to date, and they expect that to go up when more redundancies are made.
It is heart warming to know that there are organisations out there such as Provide Devon who can help. And there is no shame in asking for and receiving this help, especially during these testing times.
It would be very remiss of me if I didn’t end by telling you how you can get involved.
You can email firstname.lastname@example.org
Make an online donation at www.providedevon.org.uk
Host a food donation box in your company
Use the drop off points at the Co-op, libraries and Santander for food donations
Organise a reverse advent calendar in December (Don’t worry, I had to ask too! But ring 07928 670704 and they will kindly explain)
The ADG team are donating what they would normally spend on a silly Secret Santa present to Provide Devon. Maybe you can ask your office to do this too?