Verity Cowley interviewed John Cavey from Rotary4Foodbanks and Lauren Jay Warner of Taylors Transport for her Afternoon radio show on BBC Radio Nottingham 19/08/2020
The latest edition of the Rotary in Great Britain and Ireland Magazine carries a feature on our Rotary4Foodbanks scheme.
A sky-diving, wing-walking Mansfield woman has found herself at the heart of a major £100,000 charity initiative to keep foodbanks stocked across the East Midlands and South Yorkshire.
28 year old Lauren Warner, an international transport planner at Mansfield’s Taylor’s Transport, has her work cut out. She is at the centre of operations for Rotary4foodbanks which is providing vital supplies to over 50 foodbanks in the region. Now, with supermarket giant Morrisons linking to the ground-breaking scheme, she is set to get even busier.
Since the launch of Rotary4foodbanks in April this year, Taylor’s has been on board, donating space, staff and vehicles to manage the stocks which the Rotary team has been buying in bulk for foodbanks. Because Rotary4foodbanks buys at wholesale prices, foodbanks get even greater value from public cash donations at a time when demand for their services is doubling too.
Says Lauren, “I have not been furloughed throughout the covid crisis and was only too happy to take on the extra work involved in managing the distribution of food to foodbanks. At Taylor’s, we’ve always tried to give back to the community and this is such a practical way of using our expertise to meet a real need.”
Rotary4foodbanks, which is already distributing £100,000 worth of staple foods like tea coffee, cereals and tinned fruit, now works with supermarket giant Morrisons’ bulk buy scheme, set up specifically to help charities. Lauren was on hand to receive the first Morrisons delivery of nearly 28,000 items of food which recently arrived at Taylors Huthwaite distribution centre.
Lauren, who lives with her partner in Mansfield, is no stranger to charity endeavours. Having already completed a sky-dive in support of the John Eastwood Hospice in Sutton in Ashfield where her grandfather spent his final days, she is planning a wing-walk early next year to raise funds for research into endometriosis.
“Right now though,” she says, “my focus is on working with Rotary4foodbanks to ensure that no-one goes hungry as the post-Covid recession hits more and more families in our region.”
Eventually, Rotary4foodbanks hopes that the government will give financial backing to grow the scheme nationally. John Cavey, project leader, explains: “Until then we are relying on product donations from food sector companies and cash funding from other thriving businesses. And of course, we welcome donations from the always generous great British public. To help, we have set up a just giving page, where people can add value by gift aiding their donations.
A foodbank project manager has praised supermarkets, Rotary Clubs and others for how they have pulled together to combat hunger in the town. But, warns Stephen Prosser of Rotherham Foodbank, the real crisis is only just beginning.
Since April, first-time users represent over 50% of the clients presenting vouchers for food at Rotherham Foodbank’s Hope Centre on Grove Road. That, says Steve, should sound a warning about how tough times will get as the post-covid recession bites.
“Had it not been for the generosity of supermarkets like Morrisons and Tesco, and the superb efforts of our local Rotherham Sitwell Rotary Club and Rotary4foodbanks, we would be facing a real dilemma. Because of their donations of vital supplies our shelves are reasonably stocked to see us through the summer. But it will be in the autumn, as furloughs end and redundancies kick in, as the homeless are no longer housed in hotels, that the real scale of the hunger issue will hit home.”
During 2012 when the foodbank first opened its doors, it fed just 124 people. In 2015 the number had increased to 2338. By 2019 it had more than doubled again to 4869 with over 42 tonnes of food distributed to support some of the most vulnerable in the Rotherham community.
Since April this year, when Rotherham Sitwell Rotary stepped in to help, the club has provided over five tonnes of the 19 tonnes of food in stock or distributed by the foodbank. Club members are donating between £500 and £1000 every week to buy supplies, and supermarket giant Morrisons is more than matching that contribution.
To help meet the growing demand the South Yorkshire and East Midlands Rotary Clubs have added a new tier of support – Rotary4foodbanks. Pooling resources, Rotary4foodbanks bulk buys staple food supplies – tea, coffee, tinned fruit, cereals – at wholesale prices which it distributes by the pallet-load to around 50 foodbanks across the region. By the end of August it will have distributed food with a wholesale value of around £100,000 and has plans to extend the scheme as demands on foodbanks continue to rise.
“For us it is the perfect combination,” says Steve. “While Rotary4foodbanks supplies good shelf-life stocks of those in-demand items, we can write a shopping list of our specific needs to the local Rotary Club and, working with Morrisons, we know they will provide it.
“It is heart-warming to see local charities like Rotary, together with businesses and individuals, pull together to support those who might otherwise fall through the net. It says so much about the true spirit of Rotherham in times of crisis.”
That spirit stretches even further, explains Rotherham Sitwell Rotary’s Roger Green:
“Club members have been fantastically generous. But to transport the stocks, we needed a vehicle big enough to do it. Rotherham business Universal Vehicle Suppliers stepped in straight away. They have lent us a 17-seater minibus for as long as we need it. Now we can both transport goods and socially distance the team travelling to load and unload at each end!”
Local MP Sarah Champion has praised the work of Rotary4foodbanks. She says:
“I am aware of the R4FB scheme and am really impressed by the speed at which this was put together and the generosity of not only Rotary Club members but retailers and distributors. The scale that R4FB has been able to reach is quite incredible. Behind each of those parcels was a family or individual who, without their help may have gone hungry.
“The generous spirit of Rotherham people has really come to the fore in the last few months, with people pulling together to help friends, family and strangers. It is one of the reasons that I am so proud to represent Rotherham in Parliament.”
Steve Prosser and his team of up to 12 volunteers are always looking for cash and food donations to support their work in the town.
Rotary4foodbanks is planning to double its work in the next three months and has set up a just giving page for those wanting to donate.
As previously reported, retired physics teacher Pete Wearn has found himself behind the wheel of a major local initiative to keep hard-pressed foodbanks stocked as demand for their services soars.
Now he is quite literally one of the driving forces behind Rotary4foodbanks, an initiative to help ensure no-one across the East Midlands and South Yorkshire goes hungry as a result of the Covid crisis.
Peter was part of a feature mentioning unsung heroes on BBC East Midlands today 21/07/2020.
A Dronfield food charity has seen demand for its services double since the start of the Covid crisis. With the help of the local supermarkets and a vital supply lifeline from Rotary4foodbanks they are now providing food parcels to over 100 local families in need every week.
“Before March we had 100 individuals on our books and in need of support. Now that has risen to 250, including families where children would otherwise go hungry without our support,” says Janet Morton who manages the Re:Store Community Food service on behalf of Oaks Community Church.
Originally set up to reduce food waste, Re:Store has increasingly become a lifeline for vulnerable families in and around Dronfield. “We work with supermarkets to ensure that ‘near-its-sell-by-date’ food doesn’t get wasted. But with the increase in demand, there have been days when we had nothing on the shelves and have had to turn people away. Our link with Dronfield Rotary Club and Rotary4foodbanks has been a real boost, ensuring that we always have something to include in the food parcels.”
The Rotary4Foodbanks scheme, run entirely by volunteers, is an East Midlands and South Yorkshire initiative which pools funds and bulk buys staple food supplies at wholesale prices which it distributes to foodbanks across the region. By the end of August it will have distributed food with a wholesale value of around £100,000 and has plans to extend the scheme as demands on foodbanks continue to rise.
Janet picks up Rotary4foodbank stocks – coffee, tea, tinned fruit and cereals – by the pallet-load from a Sheffield warehouse. Her team of volunteers split it into individual parcels. “Previously people have come into our community food service, based at Lea Rd in Dronfield and picked up what they need. Now, as part of social distancing and to safeguard our own team, they wait at the door while we pack parcels for them.”
Janet normally counts on 20 volunteers but with many of them elderly and shielding, the team is under more pressure than ever. She expects that as the furlough system ends and redundancies increase, the demand for Re:Store’s service will increase still further. “We are committed to meeting the need, come what may, and are grateful to initiatives like Rotary4foodbanks, for the vital support they provide.”
A NEW initiative by Rotary is helping to support Sheffield foodbanks as they face unprecedented demand for their services.
Sheffield foodbanks, in common with those accross the country, are facing a massive increase in demand as a result of the Covid19 crisis. More and mode families are facing increasing hardship and are turning to foodbanks as a vital means of support.
But a new initiative by Rotary is helping to ensure that the limited funds of many of the region’s foodbanks go further still.
Local club Wortley Rotary is part of the region-wide project, Rotary4foodbanks, launched last month across the East Midlands and South Yorkshire.
President of the Wortley Rotary Club, Philip Sherriff, told Look Local: “Its a real team effort.”
“Foodbanks can be nominated by Rotary clubs for direct support and other foodbanks can order supplies through Rotary4foodbanks and see their limited funds work harder. Wortley club has donated funds and nominated the foodbank at St Saviours, High Green and last week they received their first bulk delivery from the project.”
While the Rotary4foodbanks scheme is currently operating only in the East Midlands and South Yorkshire the plan is to roll it out more broadly.
“Our members tell us there is a crying need for a similar service to support food banks elsewhere in the country” says the scheme’s coordinator John Cavey.
As seen in Local Look newspaper
Canaan Trust – a charity which supports homeless and vulnerable people in Erewash and Broxtowe – has seen demand for its services double since the start of the Covid crisis. But having to cancel fundraising events like their annual sleepout has left them short of resources to meet local need.
Kevin Curtis, Canaan Trust’s project manager, says this year they will lose up to £40,000 in donations and income. “Lockdown has meant we have had to cancel all our fundraising events like our hugely successful annual sleep out. At the same time, demand for our services has rocketed. Even so, we have pledged to turn no-one away and to respond to every request for help.”
Now, as part of a region-wide Rotary4foodbanks scheme, three local Rotary clubs have stepped in to deliver vital supplies of staple foods to help ensure that no-one in the borough goes hungry. Backed by Long Eaton Rotary, Long Eaton Dawnbreakers and Church Wilne Rotary, they have made the first drop of over 500 items – including coffee, porridge, sweetcorn plums and custard – to the Canaan Trust’s Jordan House in Main Street, Long Eaton.
The Rotary4Foodbanks scheme, run entirely by volunteers, is an East Midlands and South Yorkshire initiative which pools funds and bulk buys staple food supplies at wholesale prices which it distributes to foodbanks across the region. By the end of July it will have distributed food with a wholesale value of around £100,000 to around 50 foodbanks in the region. It has plans to extend the scheme as demands on foodbanks continue to rise.
Says Canaan’s Kevin Curtis: “All of these products have immediately gone into the Trust’s food aid parcels being distributed to individuals and families across the borough. The Rotary4foodbanks scheme will make a real difference to the lives of many of those most in need in our community.”
It is not the first time that local Rotarians have stepped in to help the Canaan Trust. In the past year alone the Dawnbreakers helped the Trust purchase a number of special shelters, known as Iglous, to provide street homeless with shelter from the adverse weather while sleeping out as the trust works with them to find them safe and secure accommodation.
Rotary4foodbanks is asking the public to support its programme and has set up a just giving page:
Donations direct to the Canaan Trust can be made at https://www.justgiving.com/canaantrust/donate
The Canaan Trust
2020 sees the Canaan Trust mark 25 years of supporting and caring for the homeless and the
vulnerable from across the local communities in Erewash and Broxtowe. Operating 24-7, 365 days a year the Trust’s services and support are always accessible enabling any individual or family to obtain help when they are in crisis or in need. Even during the period of ‘lock-down’ the Trust has remained fully operational and accessible. During the Covid pandemic the Trust has seen an over 100% increase in the calls for its help and support from the same period last year.
The Trust is dependent on charitable donations to enable it to provide the support and care it delivers to those in need. One of the implications of the lock-down has been that the Trust has had to cancel all of its fund raising events and charitable collections. These cancellations, for example our annual Sleep Out, will result in the Trust losing up to £40,000 in charitable donations and income. Effectively for the Trust, as the demand for its help has increased exponentially simultaneously the funding to meet that demand has been reduced significantly.
The Trust has determined that regardless of its current charitable income the Trust will turn no one away and will continue to proactively respond to all requests for support.
It is in this context that the support offered and provided by Rotary4Foodbanks has been welcomed, appreciated and valued.
For many years the Wirksworth Rotary Club has run a plant sale in May to raise money for local good causes. A few years ago we teamed up with the Transition Wirksworth Community Growers in order to expand our offering to include vegetables and herbs as well as traditional bedding plants and perennials.
This collaboration has proved to be a great success and we were looking forward to holding this year’s plant sale, when we were to be also to be joined by the Wirksworth U3A Gardening Group. Everything changed of course as the Covid-19 virus started to spread across the world and the country went into lockdown.
As seasoned plants people, we had all our seeds and seedlings overwintering in greenhouses and on windowsills and the idea of throwing all these young plants onto the compost heap was unthinkable. We all agreed that the sale MUST GO ON – the big question was how to make it happen without breaching lockdown and social distancing guidelines.
Out of this the ‘virtual’ plant sale was born. Lists and the descriptions of all the plants for sale were collected from our wonderful team of growers and using social media platforms and public noticeboards we started to spread the word. Timed collections of orders were scheduled at a number of locations and for customers in self-isolation we arranged personal deliveries.
In view of these unprecedented times and the difficulties which so many people in our community are facing as a result of the shutdown of many businesses, it was agreed that all the money from the proceeds of the Plant Sale would be donated to the Jigsaw Foodbank in Matlock.
As a result of the fantastic support of so many people over £2,900 was raised. Out of this total, £750 has already been paid into the Rotary4Foodbanks fund. The Jigsaw Foodbank, nominated by the Bakewell, Matlock and Wirksworth Rotary Clubs in Rotary4Foodbanks, has already received several consignments of extremely valuable staple items for their food bags through this scheme.
Ruth Longfellow from the Jigsaw Foodbank commented, “This is such a generous donation and very much appreciated! It will help us to keep supporting the vulnerable in our community for some time to come.” “We are very grateful for all the generous donations of tinned and packet food we receive from individuals and organisations in the local community, as well as financial donations which enable us to purchase any items we are short of and also the ability to provide fresh fruit and vegetables for our clients. The donations we receive enable us to continue to support these vulnerable, needy families who find themselves in the most desperate of circumstances.”
Retired physics teacher Pete Wearn has found himself behind the wheel of a major local initiative to keep hard-pressed foodbanks stocked as demand for their services soars.
Aged 74, Pete’s retirement after 32 years teaching has been anything but quiet. Since 2005 he has been chair of the Long Eaton and District 50plus Forum and a committed supporter of the successful New Basford-based ShoeAid charity.
Now he is quite literally one of the driving forces behind Rotary4foodbanks, an initiative to help ensure no-one across the East Midlands and South Yorkshire goes hungry as a result of the Covid crisis.
The Rotary4Foodbanks scheme, run entirely by volunteers, is an East Midlands and South Yorkshire initiative which pools funds and bulk buys staple food supplies at wholesale prices which it distributes to foodbanks across the region. By the end of July it will have distributed food with a wholesale value of around £100,000 and has plans to extend the scheme as demands on foodbanks continue to rise.
Says Pete: “I had bought a van to transport the kit I use to stage physics demonstrations to primary schools but during lockdown it was sitting idle. So when my fellow Rotarians said they needed help distributing food pallets to some of the 50 foodbanks across the region, I was only too happy to get behind the wheel and help out.
“The team at ShoeAid offered space in their warehouse for me to store the bulk deliveries of vital food supplies – coffee, tea, tinned fruit, custard and cereals – which I then drive out to around a dozen foodbanks across the region.”
Pete, who lives in Sandiacre with his wife Pat, also a retired teacher, says his work has met with a fantastic response. “There are so many dedicated volunteers in foodbanks working to stave off hunger amongst some of the region’s most vulnerable individuals and families. They need and deserve all the help we can give them. The Rotary4foodbanks programme is a brilliant way of doing that.”
He follows strict hygiene and social distancing measures wherever possible, sanitising the van between drops. Does he feel at risk himself? “There is a risk of course,” he says, “and we must all be extra vigilant. But I am pretty fit – I’ve cycled over 800 miles since the start of lockdown – and that works in my favour.”
While the Rotary4foodbanks scheme is currently operating only in the East Midlands and South Yorkshire, the plan is to roll it out more broadly. “Our members tell us there is a crying need for a similar service to support foodbanks elsewhere in the country. Here in the East Midlands we are leading the way,” says the scheme’s co-ordinator, John Cavey.
Eventually, Rotary hopes that the government will also give financial backing to grow the scheme nationally. “Until then,” says John, “we are relying on the generosity of the public and businesses to see us through.”
Rotary4foodbanks has launched a just giving page for anyone who wants to donate to help alleviate hunger.