Responding to need, in 2015 we established what has proved to be a very successful community service called “Given Freely, Freely Given”, the main purpose of which is to improve the health and wellbeing of people, particularly those who are the most marginalised in society.
When the pandemic started and our coffee shop, arts, craft, games and youth groups could not meet, we anticipated the shift in community need to life’s essentials and opened the food and toiletries banks more frequently.
Working throughout the pandemic we have evolved into “MultiBank” which provides life’s essentials (food, clothes, toiletries, bedding, pots pans etc) to an average of 236 households over four mornings each week. To do this we collect food approaching it’s Best Before date from 16 different supermarkets each week through the FareShare and Neighbourly National schemes. Many individuals donate clothes, bedding, small household items, food and toiletries. We plug gaps in donations through buying food and toiletries using financial donations from individuals and grants.
Each area of MultiBank is designed to allow conversation between volunteer and attendee and this helps tackle social isolation and improves our understanding of the communities needs.
We raise Covid-19 safety awareness by constantly emphasising the need for hand washing, social distancing and wearing of masks. If necessary, we explain the reasons, thus educating people in difficult to reach groups in achieving good practice.
More information can be found at www.onekathtwojohns/given-freely-freely-given