Story and photo by Nicola White
We held our final drop in meal on Thursday 19th March. 67 people were at the door by 2pm. We realised social distancing would be impossible to maintain. With heavy hearts and with the safety of all in mind, we made the decision to close our doors to the drop in and stood the majority of our volunteers down.
In less than a week we regrouped and with a very small team transformed our open drop in to a referral and delivery operation. It was a challenge but one we one we knew we had to accept. In the first couple of weeks, when supermarket shelves were empty, we didn’t know if we would have enough food to keep going.
Morrison’s stepped up with a fortnightly donation from their Ecclesfield Store. They also allowed us to buy as much as we needed in the first weeks, even though it was above the item limit. Oasis Academy Fir Vale re-routed their weekly fresh fruit veg delivery to us. Colin Havard from Sheffield City Council turned up one Friday morning with a car load of much needed UHT Milk, tuna and Weetabix from SCC central stores. We collaborated with Fir Vale Community Hub to gain some additional funding. There was hope and we knew that because we had got through that most difficult time.
It hasn’t been easy. In the beginning there were a few 50 hour weeks whilst we got set up and organised. We lost sleep worrying about our regular visitors who were unable to drop in to meet friends for a chat over a meal and a cuppa. We needed volunteers who could drive and when we called they answered, volunteering their time, cars and fuel. Some days we didn’t know where our next tin of beans was coming from but they appeared. Generosity from so many corners of the city has kept us going.
The new normal for the UK changes from week to week. We are now encouraging people to collect their parcels from us. Eventually we will return to our Thursday drop in although that might be some way off, we look forward to when we can.
Thank you to everyone who has helped, donated, supported and given their time. Without you, none of what has been achieved would have been possible.
Peace and Love, The Fir Vale Food Bank Team
We are not able to take self-referrals at this time but can take a referral from someone such as your support worker, social worker, GP practice, health visitor, school or Citizens Advice Bureau. Details of how they can contact us can be found at www.sheffieldfoodbank.org.uk/ food-bank-list/