People in Weybridge are sometimes perplexed that Foodbank donations from Weybridge shoppers go to the Runnymede Foodbank. They also ask where donations can be made and how the distribution service has been managed since it left St James’s Parish Church in March.
We are happy to report that, since lockdown, the Foodbank has continued to provide food parcels to local residents and throughout the parliamentary constituency of Runnymede and Weybridge. But some things have changed. To find out more, we turned to Runnymede Borough Council (RBC) colleagues for an update.
What we discovered was the major contribution RBC has made and how two of our Lib Dem colleagues on RBC have helped since lockdown. At a very early stage in lockdown, the manager of the Runnymede Foodbank highlighted to the RBC Community Services Committee his very serious concerns on how to maintain the service with rising levels of need, limited warehouse accommodation and some volunteers self-isolating.
RBC stepped in to help the Foodbank by providing warehouse accommodation and councillors volunteered to help keep the service going. The new warehouse facility near Egham became fully operational on the 6th April. Initially RBC councillors managed the warehousing and distribution service on a 7 day a week basis, aided by local volunteers from across the borough. A substantial number of new volunteers have been working alongside established volunteers since this time.
Under pandemic conditions the Foodbank has run differently. All requested provisions are now delivered to households rather than being collected from the foodbank. This was seen as essential to maintain social distancing for volunteers. This also meant there could be deliveries to those who were self-isolating.
The Chertsey Foodbank management team, who were unfortunately laid low with Covid-19 early on, have been progressively taking back the management responsibility from the RBC councillors. And the RBC councillors who kept the Foodbank going are now returning to other duties. While the RBC input drew on all parties, two Lyne Lib Dem councillors played a very significant part in keeping the operation going. These are Theresa Burton who organised volunteer staffing, developed the systems to support the operation and liaised with the Chertsey Foodbank charity team, and Don Whyte who has been managing the warehouse two days a week.
If you want to make your contribution to keeping this very valuable service going then there are many ways in which you can help. You can donate items at Morrisons and Waitrose; you can make a financial contribution; you can organise a street collection and you can volunteer. Volunteering is done a flexible basis, so volunteers can chip in when they are free and do not have to make a firm commitment to being somewhere every week for a specific time.
If you plan to donate goods or run a street collection, please be aware that currently the most needed items are:
- Laundry powder or liquid
- Washing up liquid
- Canned pasta – spaghetti, macaroni cheeses, etc
- Sponge puddings
Please give generously: https://runnymede.foodbank.org.uk