Blog, Food Bank, News

Well what can I say… By Carly Williams

The Micah Liverpool team have been tenacious in their efforts to keep both of our foodbanks running during these tough times. I have been overwhelmed by the team spirit that has ensured the smooth operation of our foodbanks.

First of all, a bit of background about me as blogging isn’t usually my forte.  My name is Carly and I’m the Food Aid Assistant at Micah Liverpool. I have been in this post since June last year, coming from a very varied background with lots of transferable skills (I hope). I coordinate all things related to food aid activity including running our two foodbank pantry sessions each week at St Vincent de Paul and St Bride’s. The number of community markets we operate have increased from three to five whilst I’ve been at Micah Liverpool and I run three of these each week.

I must admit that during my first week I did wonder what I had let myself in for! I seemed to constantly be surrounded by crates of food and I felt like I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. However, with the help of staff and army of volunteers I soon settled in. Our volunteers really are the beating heart of how we operate, it sounds cheesy but it’s true. From the moment I arrived at both foodbanks I felt their kindness and how they wanted me to succeed. There is nobody that I can’t ask for help or advice, everyone is willing. It’s a truly wonderful team. I wish that we didn’t need foodbanks and we continue to strive for social justice but in the meantime we are doing our very best.

I didn’t expect there to be a pandemic at just nine months in! What a whirlwind it has been. I recall one of the volunteers tentatively speaking to me back in February to say they were a bit worried about events in the news and I admitted that I had the same worries myself. From that conversation onwards we have taken coronavirus very seriously because the health and wellbeing of our guests, volunteers and staff is of the utmost importance to us. I was particularly focused on wanting to make our foodbank pantry sessions as safe as possible because I knew that we would need to continue this vital work.  We purchased hand sanitiser and cleaning sprays and readied ourselves that week back in February. I spoke to the volunteers about handwashing in line with government advice and broached the subject that we should stop shaking hands with each other and guests.  This was difficult as we try to offer a very personal service at our foodbank pantry sessions to help our guests feel welcome.

Unfortunately, by the beginning of March we had to cancel our community markets. Further government announcements followed by the lockdown have meant many changes for us. It’s been hard at times. We are continuing to run both foodbank pantry sessions with Micah Liverpool staff and a small number of volunteers who are able to cover for any staff absences and help pack food parcels. We run the foodbanks outside with many measures in place to maintain social distancing. We are carrying on this vital work and will continue to do so, it is our passion.

I miss many things.  I miss how the foodbank operated before lock down and I miss spending time with our volunteers and guests. However, each time I go to the foodbank I can see glimmers of hope. A mother thanked me last week and told me she didn’t have the words to tell me what our work means to her. Even with the language barrier, I understood perfectly what she was saying. I know this situation is so hard for her being trapped inside a small room in a hostel with a toddler. In fact, I don’t know, I am lucky. My daughter has a garden to run around in and we have food in our cupboards. I can only imagine what her family is going through. Another little girl gave me a dandelion as a thank you, I was over whelmed. Beautiful glimmers of hope in desperate times. This is what keeps me going.

Change is always difficult, it takes strength and courage. We’ll get through this together. Thank you to all of my colleagues, our volunteers and donors. We couldn’t do this without you.

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