Volunteering gives colleagues in Hull a Christmas glow

Emma Smith, Money Advisor based at our North Bransholme office, Hull talks about her volunteering experience for Hull Foodbank/Trussell Trust.

After much discussion in the Riverside North Bransholme office, eight members of the team decided that we wanted to volunteer for our local Trussell Trust Food Bank in Hull. Riverside North Bransholme already work in partnership with our local food bank; we give out referral vouchers in the office to tenants in need.

Over the years we have seen many of our tenants in need of emergency food hampers for various reasons including welfare reforms; delays in benefits or other unexpected crises. Food bank use in general has increased significantly since 2010. We have seen firsthand the difference the food bank can make for people who rely on it at difficult times.

I wrote to Helen at the food bank to offer up our time and help. She was delighted as she was organising volunteers for the Christmas campaign that the Trussell Trust run in conjunction with Tesco twice per year

For three days in the first week in December, off we all popped into Hull city centre.

We were greeted warmly by Helen and also made a new friend in the lovely Mark who was the Tesco store manager. He deserves a particular mention for taking some awesome photos but more importantly, providing the chocolate. He also sorted us out free parking so he is a diamond!

We were all a little nervous as we didn’t really know what to expect.  We knew we would be asking for food but that seemed a little daunting at first. Helen soon put our minds at rest by explaining that all we had to do was hand out the pre-printed shopping lists. These basically explained how to help: just buy some extra groceries with your shop and pop them in our trolleys on the way out. The shopping list gave a couple of examples of things that were particularly needed. It then got a bit more exciting as we were given some very fetching green tabards to wear!

Hull foodbank volunteers

Tabards on and shopping lists at the ready, we were off!  We stood in the entrance and asked shoppers if they could help the food bank. Most people stopped and listened and took the lists we gave them. A few people just pretended they hadn’t seen us or told us they were in a rush but generally the response we got was fantastic, our trolleys were soon getting full. People of all ages and situations were donating. Some people told us that they had been through difficult times themselves and wanted to give something back, to people who didn’t really understand how the food bank helped but after a chat with us, it became clearer and they felt they wanted to donate.

Some people wanted to help just through generosity. One particularly nice moment was a donation of five chocolate selection boxes from a three year old little boy whose Mum had explained to him that some families can’t afford food at Christmas. 

We all had a fantastic morning, we met some amazing people and encouraged Tesco customers in the area to donate a vast quantity of food for the most poverty. 

For anyone thinking about giving their time to volunteering locally, I would highly recommend it, it really did give us all some food for thought and a real satisfaction to be able to help local people this Christmas.