A day in the life…

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…

Live on £1 a Day: Angie Day 1

Got up, walked the dogs and got ready for work. When I arrived, there was a cup of tea on my desk waiting for me – I have some lovely colleagues!  I started to feel hungry around 11:30am, but as I said before I am trying not to eat until 12pm; I left my lunch where it was and sat it out.

Lunch was homemade tomato, onion and butterbean soup. I also added a handful of pasta to try and make sure that it was as filling as possible. I’d used potatoes to thicken it up and myself and my partner had two slices of bread and olive oil spread. I have to say that I didn’t notice the difference in the bread even though we had omitted the sugar from the dough. It was very nice and I am extremely glad that I had bought stock cubes in my shop as I think it would have been pretty bland without.

The afternoon went well and I had several cups of tea made for me and I drank plenty of water. I usually graze throughout the afternoon, even if it is healthy grazing that I do and I missed this a lot. I found an apple on my desk and gave it to a colleague although I would have loved to have eaten it myself. By about 4:30pm I was getting really hungry; I started thinking a lot about food and what I could make with all the potatoes we bought. 

I didn’t leave work until 6pm as I was meeting some friends to go for a run. I am lucky that I have a hobby that, once you have the kit, it’s free, but it does make you think about what you would do if you needed new trainers and had to choose between new trainers to allow you to continue doing something that you enjoy and is good for your mental wellbeing, or having food to give you the fuel to do it.

I often find that running dulls my appetite and when I got home I wasn’t that hungry. At around 8pm, we had beans on toast as that was something simple and quick. I missed adding some chopped chilli to my beans – I grow my own and have a freezer with lots of varieties – but I was determined to stick to what I bought so they stayed in the freezer. I often grate some cheese on top as well, but left that off as I need enough for my pizza, broccoli and cheese soup and for any pasta I will be making later in the week.  It does make you think about the things you take for granted…

END

We’ve mentioned before during these blogs about the nutritionally balanced food parcels, as set out by the Trussell Trust, but it’s worth mentioning again! Today, we had a school visit from a year 5 class who came with a large donation of items and lots of well thought out questions. One student asked ‘how much money do you [the foodbank] spend on food each week?’ and the answer is not very much at all, thanks to our amazing supporters, listening to our needs and responding. We send out a monthly ‘most / least needed’ list to those who have requested it (around 80 recipients, several who represent groups), highlighting the items that we really need, but also the items we don’t need due to high stock levels.

If you’re local to Norwich and would like to support us, look at our website and social media pages to see updates on what we do and don’t currently need. If Norwich isn’t your local foodbank, get in touch with them as we know they would really appreciate giving you up to date info on how best you can help.

Live on £1 a Day: Kathryn’s Shop


Live on £1 a Day: Kathryn’s Shop

The Pitch

It all started with a question – would I be interested in taking part in a project to showcase issues around food poverty, budget shopping and healthy eating?  Yes of course I would – happy to participate in any way. Great in theory and the premise of it – you have £5 to feed yourself for 5 days. On paper that sounds easy – simple maths told me it was £1 per day. And then I started to ACUTALLY think about it – and comparing to my current lifestyle, I found myself analysing my current decisions, my current food habits, how I shop and what the impact of this would mean…

The Questions

Once I started to think about it many questions popped up:

  • If I drink more water (which is good for me) would I need to budget for more toilet paper?
  • Would travelling to a ‘budget’ supermarket out-weigh the costs of shopping locally – and, often, more expensively?
  • Can I stick to a rigid plan – without the freedom of changing my mind?
  • Can I be organised enough to plan ahead for meals?
  • In ‘reality’ I don’t have to worry about money on my electric meter – what would I do if that was an issue too?

The Support

I was annoyed at first that a couple of people that I spoke to about this forthcoming period immediately said to me “don’t worry, I’ll take you out for lunch one day” – my first reaction was that they had missed the point of doing this appeal. However, on reflection I have realised that I have an amazing support network around me – family, friends and neighbours.  I know that, should I be in dire straits or needed help, it would be available. I’m also acutely aware that I am blessed to be in this situation – many are alone and don’t have this network around them. Furthermore, I am sure not many people would announce they only have £5 to last them the next 5 days….!  

The Slimming World Dilemma

I’ve been a member of Slimming World for a couple of years and achieved my 2.5 stone loss award and was working towards by 3 stone loss certificate. Very quickly it became clear that following SW plans and meals wasn’t going to be possible – trying to replace low fat foods (meat products) and increasing fruit and vegetable intake has been my focus for so long.   With a very limited budget these principles can’t be met. For those on tight budgets and trying to lose weight, I can see the two don’t marry up. It should not be more expensive to eat healthily – rather than have convenience food – but that is a debate for another time!

The Shop

I have to say, doing the shopping for my 5 days was, probably, one of the most stressful shopping trips I have ever had!

Again reflecting on my current shopping habits – I tend to shop online and have it delivered. I’ve found over time if I go into a supermarket I buy more as I’m easily influenced by items on sale etc  However, I appreciate there is a luxury of having my shopping appear at my door.

Constant checking of prices and re-evaluating choices meant it took a long time to ensure I had enough food (I hope) that came under £5.


Total spend:  £4.85.

(FYI – couldn’t find anything to buy for 15p!).

END

If you follow Norwich foodbank on social media, you may see that the Carrow Road collection brought in a huge amount of donations – both money and food – and we’re extremely grateful for the support we receive. If you would like to support the foodbank in this way, our current needs are: instant mash, high content meat products (corned beef, ham, etc), toothpaste and Easter Eggs. Please do visit our website for details of where to donate.