‘We will be there to help people no matter what’ - says Doncaster food bank who are gearing up for a rough winter ahead

A Doncaster food bank has been handing out toys and festive food for Christmas.

Wednesday, 22nd December 2021, 8:35 am

The Doncaster Food Banks are hoping that this year the season of giving can be extended past December as the need for their services is continuing to grow.

The increase in need can be pinned on Covid-19, universal credit cut backs and energy price rises.

John Parr is project manager at Doncaster Food Banks he said that the food banks across Doncaster are feeding hundreds of people at a time.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Volunteer Karen Lovell, pictured with childrens Christmas gifts that have been donated.

He said: “This week is our busiest of the year – the Christmas rush is always a stressful time. “Every person who we help gets a Christmas bag filled with festive food.

“All the classics such as crackers, nuts and chocolate.

“We are also handing out toys to families with children.

Read More

Read More
This is what Doncaster people think about another lockdown being enforced this w...
Carol Corner, Volunteer, John Parr, Project Manager and Natalie Taplin, Volunteer, pictured outside St Paul's Church Foodbank Centre.

“The food bank has been lucky enough to receive donations from warehouses and local companies which means a weight of shoulders for the parents that come here.

“It is lovely to see the relief in their faces when we take away just a little bit of their stress.

“If someone is having to use our services there’s a good chance they are struggling in other areas of life too so being able to give them a couple of toys for their kids means a lot.

“People have been very appreciative of both the Christmas food and the toys.”

Volunteer listener Karen Lovell, pictured speaking with a client.

John said that this last week St Paul’s Church, one of the food bank centres, fed hundreds of people.

Tracey Leigh is a volunteer at St Paul’s and is doing all she can to spread kindness this Christmas.

“All of our volunteers are local and care deeply about the community,” said Tracey, aged 46 from Intake.

“It is our priority to make sure that the people who come here feel like they matter – that they never feel ashamed or less than because they need help.

Volunteer Carol Corner, pictured in the Food Store.

“Food is a basic need and people can’t function without it but that’s not all that we give.

“We talk to people and help them identify other services that can help them during tough times.

“Having someone listen to you can do wonders for mental health and well being.”

The food banks usually get a surge of donations at this time of year but Tracey is hoping that people will continue to help after the New Year.

“It’s wonderful that people want others to have a nice Christmas,” she said.

“But people will still need food past Christmas Day.”

Volunteer Mark Snelson, pictured packing food bags.

With possible Covid-19 restrictions looming the food banks are having to reorganise and change their operations.

“We are putting less volunteers inside the buildings for safety purposes,” John said.

“But that means they’re having to take on bigger work loads.

“We want to keep the people that come here as safe as possible but that does limit some of our services.“It's important to us that we don’t just hand off a food parcel and show them the door.

“We encourage people to sit down and have a cup of tea and a chat.

“It does wonders for mental health and often helps us to get people to the services who can aid them best when they’re in need.

“But with the new variant spreading we can’t provide that for the people who come to the food banks which is a real shame.”

The volunteers at the food banks are wearing masks, practising social distancing and using hand sanitiser.

Despite the new variant looming and uncertainty ahead John and his team are determined to continue to help people in need.

“We’re prepared for any situation that might arise,” John said.

“Back in the first lockdown we still operated by passing food parcels out of doors - which is not ideal but we will do what we have to do.

“Our volunteers have done this before and they will do it again if necessary.

“We’re in a good position in terms of stock thanks to the generosity of donations and we hope that people will continue to give this Christmas.”

Tracey and the other volunteers at the food banks are also determined to continue their work.

Tracey said: “We will do whatever it takes.

“The volunteers are so passionate about helping others in our community and they will not be stopped.”

The food bank is looking for donations of non-perishable food such as tinned meat, fish, vegetables, soups, rice pudding, fruit and potatoes.

They are also seeking cooking sauces, instant mash, microwave meals, long life fruit juices, UHT long life milk and drinking chocolate.

They are also in need of essential toiletries such as toilet roll, sanitary and shaving products and disposable nappies.

The food banks have a particular need for toothbrushes, sugar, tinned potatoes, washing powder, chocolate snacks and dried milk this winter.

Their warehouse is open on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9am to 12 noon for donation drop offs.

Appointments are not needed to drop off donations.

The warehouse address is Saica Natur, Sandall Stones Road, Kirk Sandall Ind. Est, Kirk Sandall, Doncaster, DN3 1TR.

If you ring the doorbell at the warehouse a volunteer will come and assist you at the door.

Doncaster Food Banks are closed for Christmas from December 24, 2021 to January 2, 2022.

If you want to find out more information about Doncaster Food Banks and how to donate then you can visit their website here.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Liam Hoden, editor.