HARLOW foodbank helps 4,000 people and families every year by supplying them with free food in emergency situations.
Part of the Michael Roberts Charitable Trust and situated inside St Paul’s Church, the foodbank relies on volunteers and donations to keep its doors open every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 12-3pm.
Some of the many ways that the foodbank gathers supplies for people in need include general public donations, regular supermarket collections from shops such as Asda and Tesco and confiscated items from Stansted airport which are put aside and collected by workers weekly.
Centre/foodbank manager, Duncan Craig, used to be a city banker, but after many years he realised this wasn’t what he wanted to do in life. ‘It’s quite difficult to stop your career when you’re so far along and go in the complete opposite direction, but I am glad I did it because I am now doing something that I really enjoy,’ he said. ‘When I first joined we didn’t have any fresh food. These days if we had more funding we could set up a foodbank supermarket.’
He added, ‘We welcome everyone. We look to provide a warm, friendly and hospitable service. It’s important to listen to people’s stories and then help them with what we can offer.’
Volunteers Sheila and Cathy, who do not wish their full names to be used, have volunteered at the foodbank for longer than they can remember. Sheila volunteers every week and Cathy works two Fridays each month. Sheila said: ‘I can see myself working here for the indefinite future. All of the volunteers work as a team, we all help each other.’
Cathy said: ‘We aim to help everyone who comes to the foodbank and make them feel welcome.’
A customer of the foodbank, who wishes to remain anonymous and has a young daughter, said: ‘If you need help then you need help. It’s one of the best organisations and I would definitely recommend it to others.’
Anyone wishing to find out more about Harlow foodbank or how they can help, should visit: http://mrct.org.uk/foodbank/
All photos taken by Leah Bloxham.