AS the number of families seeking food aid surges across the North, here in Fermanagh the Enniskillen Foodbank has made an impassioned plea for volunteers.
Last year the Fermanagh foodbank, located at the Lakes Vineyard Church near the Enniskillen Buttermarket, gave out almost 400 Christmas hampers to families who were struggling to make it through the festive season.
Earlier this week, the Trussell Trust, the charity which runs the Enniskillen Foodbank, said they had seen a surge in demand for their services across the North, with a 43 per-cent rise in the numbers using foodbanks.
With just weeks to go before Christmas, the charity handed out 12,700 parcels in just six months, and said they were “on course to distribute the highest number of food parcels in its history” during 2016-2017.
Sharon West from the Enniskillen Foodbank said demand for their service always increased in the winter and, with the foodbank expecting a very busy Christmas, appealed to locals to lend a helping hand.
“Volunteers are the lifeblood of the Enniskillen Foodbank,” said Ms West. “We cannot operate without people giving their time.”
Ms West said there wanted to give out as many Christmas hampers as possible to families this year, and were holding a volunteering drive on December 6, from 10.30am-2pm.
She urged individuals, groups, businesses, and schools to get involved, and said people could come and do an hour or what suited, with those doing the full-time being treated to pizza and drinks.
As Ms West pointed out though, volunteering for the good of the community isn’t just for Christmas.
“We also need volunteers all year round, you can volunteer anything from a few hours to two days a week,” she said.
“We really value any contribution you make, your time and skills could be just what we need. We want you to enjoy volunteering and there are lots of ways to get involved. Whatever role you choose, you will make a real difference to the life of someone in crisis.”
There are three different types of volunteers needed at the foodbank. Warehouse volunteer will help the service weigh, sort and store donated food before it’s made into parcels for clients to collect, helping make sure the right food is available at all times.
If you volunteer at the foodbank centre, you will be meeting clients and handing out parcels. This role also involves having a casual cup of tea with clients, discussing their situation and signposting them to further support.
Finally, supermarket collectors are needed to help out a the foodbank’s collection points in stores, collecting and encouraging people to donate items.
For more information on the volunteering event, or lending your time to help the foodbank, call Gavin Connolly on 07850851824 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.