Volunteer power – A foodbank copes with quadrupling demand

The Vale Community Centre Food Bank is a Craven Vale Community Association project. They experienced a rise from 25 to almost 100 households at peak in lockdown.

To meet this demand, they were supported to move site to the closed Edge Community Centre and merge with the Pankhurst Area. Sim, the lead volunteer, set about upscaling their volunteer recruitment and coordination. Alan, who has been supported with fundraising in the past was encouraged to do some direct fundraising and he was able to secure £20k.

As a small operation they had attempted to meet diverse needs of recipients, including provision for babies or sanitary products as well as activities where possible. They have tried to stay true to this value, which has added to their challenge in upscaling.

Amy, the community worker, has offered advice and support around this balancing of demand and the need to self-care for the 25 strong team of volunteers. Sim has even signed up for peer sessions with TDC community learning to help him establish clear boundaries and continue without overstretching himself. The wellbeing of community volunteers was a cause for concern, and the response by Community Learning to offer peer support was really appreciated.

Amy is now helping the group look at reducing demand as much as possible through ‘moving on’ people to other services where appropriate. This will enable the banks to split back to separate areas and for The Edge to start being used for other community needs. The group will continue to run the food bank until September and are committed to tackling the economic and social injustices which affect people in the area and which have been worsened by Covid-19. They are looking forward to being once more a run-of-the-mill community association, organising fun events and involvement for the residents and providing general help, and maintaining its earlier small food bank facility - but just one day a week, not seven! Hopefully, some of the new, younger volunteers and some of those who have been helping will stay in touch and strengthen the already-impressive sense of local community and pride.

Hollingdean Food Hub

Kirsty Walker, TDC's Director of Neighbourhoods has something to add as we conclude our round up of some of the emergency food provision across the city. "I’d also like to chip in some thanks to the 12 volunteers who helped at our very own TDC hub in Hollingdean, which we ran on behalf of Hollingdean Development Trust (HDT), as they didn’t have the on-site capacity. They let us use their building while closed and we even had a trustee volunteering with us. We helped over 60 households and I am pleased to say that following lockdown we were able to ensure existing local foodbanks will be able to meet our referred demand when we close on 21st August. A couple of volunteers will even continue to collect for people as a result of relationships formed during this process. Meanwhile as with The Edge, HDT will be supported in opening back up."


Craven Vale Food bank
Craven Vale Food bank
Craven Vale Food bank
Craven Vale Food bank

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