Today is Monday 27th January 2020. This year is Norwich foodbank’s 10th anniversary and during 2019, I was thinking of how we mark – but not celebrate – this fact. We have helped, fed and supported a lot of people, with an incredible amount of support ourselves, but it’s difficult to think we’re doing ‘well’ when what we want is to close due to lack of need.
One of the ways to mark this anniversary is by sharing an insight into the inner workings of the charity, it’s staff and volunteers (and maybe those we serve too) and so here goes; today is my day as Project Manager:
I was in the office early, catching up on emails and writing a rough agenda for the meeting I had called for 10am, to discuss Christmas 2020 plans…! Early to think about Christmas? Maybe, but good to chat, reflect and think while it’s still relatively fresh in our minds. I met with a few other charities who, like us, provide an extra or different service at Christmas to their clients and local community with food, a meal and / or gifts. As with so many things, we all agreed that communication is key and to know what each other is planning, who they are helping and how and would then give a clearer picture of how we each fit into that puzzle.
I then popped over to the warehouse, early for my next appointment, but I wanted to chat with a few of the volunteers there about our upcoming (July) Bishop’s Garden event and the help they have kindly offered – on top of what they do for the charity already. We have some incredible and generous people making the charity able to do so much and I hope I never forget to appreciate that, as some charities and groups really struggle.
After catching up, I saw an email from an agency ordering a lactose and gluten free parcel for a client of theirs, so set about making it. Thanks to donations and warehouse organisation of keeping dietary items separate, this was a relatively straightforward task and we know this person will receive a suitable 3-day parcel to meet their needs. Just as I was failing to get all the items into the box, a potential new volunteer arrived with their support worker. English is not their first language, and, combined with learning difficulties, there will be roles within the charity this particular volunteer won’t be able to cope with. But we try our best to place everyone who applies within their availability, capability and our needs. After a chat, we agreed on a role they would like to try and we planned a date for a trial session.
Next on the day’s agenda was a trip into the city centre, to the Forum, where an art exhibition in our name was up. Charlotte, a 3rd year Norwich University of the Arts student, had been visiting and chatting with me for a few months with this being the goal – displaying her photographs of our work in a public exhibition to raise awareness, as well as publicly celebrating our volunteers and the work we do. The exhibition opened last night and is on til the end of the week and while we were chatting about the setup and our favourite photos, a number of people walked past and looked, but a few stopped to read the facts and stats and have a closer look. Part of the visit was also to meet with Georgina from That’s TV East for an interview to be shown early evening tonight. Both of us were interviewed and it was on to the next things!
Off to Smithfield Foods to collect some donations of food, toiletries and cash that had been given in recent weeks. We have been supported by this company for a few years through staff volunteering, donations and fundraising within their office and it was nice to see Karen, my contact, albeit briefly!
Last on today’s list was a meeting at Carrow Road – the home of Norwich City Football Club. We have a collection at a home match in March and I was meeting with the club and Canaries Trust to chat through the details and to review the collection that took place last year. It was a very positive, informative and helpful meeting with lots of affirmative answers (and a to-do list of course).
Tomorrow has only one thing in the diary – a distribution centre team meal to which I have been invited which is flattering and will be a great opportunity to see the whole team; the weekly session is run by just a couple of people so some team members will have never met.
The rest of this week is much calmer than today – meetings with new and existing volunteers about ideas and current / future roles, visiting a possible site for a social supermarket (we are not leading on this, but interested in the concept) and continuing to host a Duke of Edinburgh student as she volunteers with us as part of her bronze award.
With all this busyness, there’s still phone-calls, emails, general admin and maybe, just maybe, ticking off some of this week’s to-do list…