No-one in our community should go hungry

Posted on 27th April 2020 | in Community , Coronavirus

Spending even a short time with the Amble Food Bank team restores your faith in human nature.  Here’s a group of caring, thoughtful and practical people for whom community is at the heart of what they do.

Some of the volunteers have been with the group for years, others have started helping since the coronavirus crisis hit. But all are committed to helping those in need, whoever they are.

“We encourage anyone with financial problems to come to the food bank,” says Ben Moore who has been with the group for many years.

“Whatever your circumstances; for example some people have been furloughed, some people have just applied for Universal Credit, and perhaps their money hasn’t come through yet. All are welcome.”

Some of the Amble Food Bank volunteers. l-r: Terry Long, Tracey Hinton, Mary Davidson and Ben Moore

Amble Food Bank began in 2013, led by Alan Rapley, working with groups from various churches and community organisations. Alan sadly died in 2015. Since then the project has moved home (it’s currently based in St Marks church hall,) and is now led by Bill Cruickshank who together with his wife Danielle are isolating during the lockdown.

Bill told The Ambler how strange it felt to be on the receiving end of help, rather than one of the helpers.

“As I am isolating and away from the daily interaction of the Amble Food Bank, it has given me time to reflect on what is happening to us all. In isolation and depending on others to help out, I have felt a great pride in where I live. Everything is brought to my door by generous people giving their time to help others. I feel the shoe is on the other foot as I am the one accepting help and not giving help.”

Now Terry Long is co-ordinating the team and the deliveries. He’s modest about his contribution, “I only stood in for Bill because he’s isolating. And I’m retired, I’ve got nothing else to do.” He jokes; “And anyway golf is sidelined, in all this lovely weather. It’s hellish!”

The rest of the team jump to sing his praises. “He’s working like a Trojan,” says Ben. “He takes the emergency calls and he’s doing this about five or six days a week.”

Generous Amble community

The food bank is busier than ever, with new referrals meaning there are often over 20 parcels a week going out. Anyone who needs help is encouraged to contact the group, either by email (amblefoodbank@aol.com) or by getting a referral. This can be done by contacting the churches, health professionals, teachers, town councillors etc. “We’d hate to think there was anyone in the community going hungry,” says Ben.

The need for help during the coronavirus lockdown is all too apparent. Several of the volunteers double up with other community support groups. Lynne Morelli also helps with the Isolation Support group and a befriending group: “When you drop things off for people, the feedback is wonderful; people say ‘We don’t know what we’d do without you.’ One lady was in tears earlier today. One gentleman I shop for gave me £20 for Amble Food Bank to show his gratitude.”

Deliveries from the Amble Food Bank

But it’s obviously not just a one-way thing. The team readily admit to appreciating the benefits of helping. “It’s an anchor in the week,” says Elizabeth Wardel.

“It’s good for our mental health too,” says Ben. “We’re doing something active and positive, so in that way we get lots of benefits.”

Working together for the good of the town was also a positive.

“The groups all work together.” says Mary Davidson. “Rachel [Cook] has networked so many groups together. And it’s great for St Marks because the church is being used, we see it as a community building.”

The team are extremely thankful to the generosity of the people of Amble. Over £3000 has already been raised for Amble Food Bank via their JustGiving page.

“Amble is good at being a community,” says Tracey Hinton. “A lot of money has been donated in such difficult times. People are still leaving food donations at the Co-op, and Morrisons and Aldi have been wonderful with their regular food donations.”

It seems fitting that the last word should be from Bill: “I feel we should all feel so grateful to and proud of our community especially to those who are putting themselves at risk in the front line every day. I wish everyone in our community of Amble and surrounding area to stay safe and keep strong.”

If you would like to donate to Amble Food Bank, you can leave food donations at the Co-op on Queen Street, or donate money on their JustGiving page.

Anna Williams

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