Fountain Foodbank thanks public for help in lockdown

Fountain Foodbank thanks public for help in lockdown

31 March 2021

THE Fountain Foodbank is continuing with its vital role in supporting families across the district.

A year after going into lockdown, the cross-community organisation based in Downpatrick — staffed by committed volunteers — continues to meet a pressing need.

In its latest newsletter, the foodbank says it continues to be extremely well supported by local people and organisations and that every penny it receives makes a difference.

Shirley Lennon, the foodbank’s co-ordinator, has revealed that decisions regarding how the organisation could operate during a global pandemic had to be made quickly to deal with the evolving situation and continually revised as time moved on. 

She explained that initially, the foodbank operated a ‘drive-thru’ service which soon had to be replaced with a delivery service for the first period of lockdown. 

“We were grateful to many younger people who helped with both the packing and delivery of these parcels. Many of our volunteers felt frustrated but kept to government guidelines and remained at home,” said Shirley.

“We also have introduced different ways of sorting food donations, packing parcels and distributing them and volunteers now work on their own or in ‘bubble’ groups.”

The foodbank co-ordinator said referrals are made by email or telephone with clients coming to the door to collect their food. 

But, sadly, the volunteers are no longer able to offer a cup of tea and a chat, with food parcels packed ahead of opening hours.

“We miss the chat and friendship of the larger groups, but it has been a way of keeping us safe and getting the work done,” Shirley explained.

“We are doing much more cleaning and being careful to wipe surfaces after use and keeping social distance where necessary.”

The foodbank official explained this means that volunteers cannot have as much conversation with clients who collect parcels, explaining that they miss being able to offer this support and some advice. 

“We try to smile through our face coverings,” Shirley revealed, explaining that while it is often the larger donations and cheques that get the focus of attention on social media, the foodbank wants to place on record its thanks to everyone who, in any way, donated to the foodbank.

She said each tin or packet of food placed in trollies at the foodbank’s local collection points, every penny or pound donated is vital to the service it can offer.

“Your giving is much appreciated, even though it cannot be acknowledged individually,” added Shirley, ending with a quote she recently came across which she said explains why the foodbank and the volunteers have kept going.

It reads: “Ultimately, as followers of Jesus, we are people of hope. As we journey through these dark and difficult days, we live in that hope, looking to the light that we find in Jesus.”