For the last two years (May 2019 until April 2021), Exeter Foodbank were our Exeter office charity. We really enjoyed supporting and volunteering for them.
During the first year of supporting Exeter Foodbank, many of our colleagues were able to volunteer and see first-hand the support the foodbank provides to those in need in Exeter. As well as volunteering, we managed to have large food drives to provide items on the priority list and many colleagues donated regularly to the food baskets kept at the office.
Unfortunately, the lockdown in March 2020 put a stop to our volunteering and regular donations through the office at the time when the foodbank needed our support the most. Whilst we were still able to donate financially and in larger supermarkets, many of us missed the benefits of actively participating with such a great charity.
Volunteering for Exeter Foodbank
Volunteering with the Foodbank gave our colleagues an insight into just how important the charity is. It demonstrated how many people in the local community rely on the generous donations of others to be able to eat.
Whilst shocking at first, the kindness of the other volunteers and staff at the foodbank and the appreciation from the clients of the Foodbank left our volunteers wanting to help more.
We know that despite the hardship of the last year, many colleagues have continued to support the Foodbank by donating in their local supermarket and participating in the ‘EFBChristmasinaBag’ initiative, which provided bags of Christmas food and soft drinks along with a small game for local families.
The impact of the pandemic
The Foodbank confirmed that they had made more changes to their services in 2020 than they had in the previous 10 years, whilst simultaneously losing half their volunteer base overnight and seeing client numbers increase by around 50%.
Despite this, they said they experienced kindness in the midst of crisis with a local church helping to pre-pack boxes for clients and confirmed they had seen extravagant examples of kindness and generosity. The average number of clients increased from about 160 a week to about 250 a week and one week served around 350 clients.
They have implemented a socially-distanced collection of pre-packed bags and a new home delivery service for those who are self-isolating/vulnerable. They have also trialled some new neighbourhood collections of items from people’s doorsteps to enable those now shopping online to donate.
The value of giving back
When you give back to your local community it not only helps those in your community that are most in need but helps improve your own well-being. It helps provide you with something else to focus on and for you to get involved in that may take you out of your comfort zone and into a whole new world that can use your assistance, as well as no doubt making friends with other volunteers. It helps those who feel alone to give them a reason to meet other people and leave their home.
Whilst the Foodbank are not currently seeking monetary donations or volunteers, you can donate food regularly and can find their priority food list here.
Giving Back is one of our key strategic pillars as a business – we care about our local communities and the environment and are committed to doing the right thing.