April 2023 marks 10 years since Bassetlaw Food Bank was established as a charity. What was born from the desire of caring community members to support Bassetlaw residents dealing with food insecurity has continued with its core mission and has expanded in other ways to provide additional projects and services that support more people in more ways.
In this blog you’ll get to know two volunteers that have been around since the very beginning, and what their motivations are for volunteering for a decade.
Meet Reverend David Bean, a trustee, and Robin, a warehouse volunteer and occasional delivery driver.
When and why did you start volunteering at Bassetlaw Food Bank?
Revd David Bean: I joined the conversation about food insecurity and the possibility of a food bank more or less at the beginning – when community groups, churches, agencies and concerned individuals gathered to discuss how we might work together. I think I was at the second ever meeting over a decade ago – which I cannot quite believe! – and I have been there ever since, as a supporter, member of the managing committee and then as a trustee!
Robin: In April 2013, Bassetlaw Food Bank opened its doors in an old shop on Lowtown in Worksop and I was among the first volunteers. I started initially to keep me out of Tesco! Meaning, I had too much free time and needed to do something more productive with it.
What has been your driving force to continue volunteering for 10 years?
Revd David Bean: My motivation now is the same as when we first started – to see the hungry fed! I am a local church minister, and so for me this is Christian compassion in action, looking not only to provide short term food aid but also to point people to sources of help to find longer term solutions. But it is also about justice – as one of my heroes, the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu once said, it’s not enough “to be pulling people out of the river. We should be going upstream to find out why they’re falling in!”
Robin: I have always felt the need to be useful and I enjoy meeting new people so I have volunteered for various charities since I retired. This helped me to keep from under the feet of my wife and gave me interests outside the home. It’s only two hours a week but that’s enough for me to feel I still have a part to play in society. The charity has remained in need of the support of volunteers, which is the reason why I have stayed.
What has volunteering at Bassetlaw Food Bank taught you?
Revd David Bean: I have learned a huge amount about generosity! The contribution made by the people of Bassetlaw is enormous. And I have also seen what can be achieved when individuals, authorities, agencies, faith groups, businesses and charities work together in partnership.
Robin: The food bank has taught me how vital such charities are as government services have been reduced and how much kindness and generosity people have.
What are some of the changes that have occurred over your 10 years with the charity?
Revd David Bean: When I first started, the food bank was a host of different groups and people working together – I have seen this change and develop into a formal partnership and then into a properly constituted charity. I have seen us start to operate out of our shop units, and then move into the centre in Manton.
Bassetlaw Food Bank continues to change, to evolve and to grow, to meet the continuing need in the community. I have seen us change from being solely a provider of emergency food parcels to be involved in other things that really help with food insecurity – the fruit and veg box scheme, social eating projects and our mobile community shop. And the newest venture the “Grow it, Fix it” project – our allotments, orchard and white goods repair project in Manton – is hugely exciting!
Robin: There has been a lot of change in 10 years. This includes multiple operating sites, management changes, hundreds of volunteers, thousands of cans, packets and jars and lots of cake to keep us going. I have seen the enormous expansion of the food bank as the need has grown and I have been proud to be a small part of this essential service.
Is there anything you’d like the public to know about Bassetlaw Food Bank and the projects we run?
Revd David Bean: I would like the public to know just how brilliant our staff, volunteers and supporters are – we couldn’t manage without them.
Robin: Bassetlaw residents should also feel proud of their support for us, and I hope they will support our innovations such as the community shop which tours rural villages or the allotments and workshop which are being developed on site in Manton.
Thank you David and Robin for your long-term contribution to Bassetlaw Food Bank. Your support is truly invaluable.