Foodbanks and the increasing role they play in Norfolk. The story of Hannah Worsley.

Just to say ‘thankyou’ twice! 1st for the food, it has helped me out in a very difficult time. 2nd, I found the whole process of that day very, very stressful and your generosity and smiling faces put a sparkle in the day which had been very gloomy for me.  

Photo source: Eastern Daily Press

Hi, my name is Hannah Worsley and I’m the project manager for Norfolk Foodbank. My role is to look after 9 distribution centres across Norfolk and organise the volunteers and the warehouse staff.  Norfolk Foodbank comes under the umbrella of the Trussell Trust, but it is an individual charity and we can start projects which are unique to us.

How many volunteers do you have?

There are 180 volunteers who are all amazing. We have people working in the distribution centres, in the warehouse, in the office, organising supermarket collections, running FISH clubs and a driver team. We couldn’t do any of what we do without our volunteers.

What do you love about this job?

Every day is different. It’s a real privilege to do this work and I could talk about it all day. There is such a need for it. Recently I met a woman who was having cancer treatment at hospital, she was paying for a taxi multiple times a week to get there and was choosing her treatment over paying for food. It makes me so thankful for what I have.

What is the main role of Foodbank?

Foodbanks plays an important role in the lives of many households in our area who find themselves on the edge of disaster through the provision of emergency food supplies. These supplies take the form of nutritionally balanced emergency foodboxes to cover an individual or family’s basic needs for 72 hours: the critical time gap before other support services kick in. For some people, Foodbank helps them ride out a crisis period and is just needed temporarily but for others it is a brief relief in a longer, difficult period.

We support up to 15 households each week in our centre at Norwich Central Baptist Church on Duke Street and provide the chance for a cuppa, biscuits and a chat too, it’s important to make them feel welcome and for them to know they are not alone in their situation, especially those who are acutely embarrassed.

When did the first Foodbank open in Norfolk?

There has been a Foodbank here since 2010, now we have a total of 9 across Norfolk.

Do you think Foodbank as a need will diminish or grow?

The numbers go up year on year. We currently distribute 9,500 parcels per year but it’s not just about food parcels, we go over and above that.

What else do you provide?

Three out of ten centres will provide a hot meal for people who go to collect their parcel so there is an opportunity to eat a good meal and talk to others.  In winter, we provide emergency gas and electricity money for meters which covers the cost of cooking the food in the parcels.  We also provide FISH clubs and the Food Hub.

Thank you to yourself and your team for organising some much needed fuel for heating. I cannot begin to tell you that you made our Christmas, having hot water to wash with and the heating on and not having to worry about it running out. I felt like a King when I could give my daughter a Christmas pudding, along with some delicious Christmas Cake, which were the extras you gave me.

What are FISH clubs?

FISH stands for ‘Food and Fun In The School Holidays’. It began in 2014 in the summer holidays and now 5 or 6 clubs meet every holiday period across Norfolk providing free meals for children who are eligible for free school meals and fun activities. There are different clubs across the country but this is our version.

What is the FoodHub?

The FoodHub is our version of ‘Fareshare’ a UK charity which distributes surplus food to turn it into meals. We collect on the day and distribute the food. It’s perfectly safe to eat, but can’t be sold.  When I started, we couldn’t provide bread, all the parcels included long life food, but now we can provide bread.

Can you cater for allergies?

We can cater for anyone, from those with religious to allergy requirements or gluten free and for those with limited or no cooking facilities.

If you’re hungry, whatever the need, we will feed you.

What do you see for the future of Foodbank?

The need isn’t going to go away, I think it will evolve to become more holistic, so already we are providing several different projects in Norfolk but in the future I think it will include debt advice, budgeting and job clubs all under the Foodbank umbrella.

What is your lent appeal?

This year for lent, we are asking people to spend £5 on food for 5 days.  I don’t want it to be seen as a challenge, it’s more about how it makes you feel when you go shopping. What are you thinking about? Were you hungry? Were you tired trying to achieve it? How did you feel? It’s about having empathy for other people who don’t have a choice, it’s not just in lent, it’s not going to end.

How can people get involved?

We always need food donations or money if you can. Please look at the website to see what the current need is so we don’t get too much of one item.  By giving us food or money, you are a vital part of the community that’s providing emergency food to local people in crisis.

Norwich Foodbank


Published by EJHumphries

Writer, journalist, blogger and communications specialist. Mum of three beauties.

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