Volunteers provide a lifeline to Chatteris residents through town food bank
PUBLISHED: 11:50 17 July 2020 | UPDATED: 11:50 17 July 2020
From young families to the most vulnerable, the work of just a handful of volunteers is helping residents in Chatteris power through the coronavirus pandemic.
It has already been running for six years, but the town’s food bank is working hard to prepare and supply essential items for those who need it most.
“We support around 15 families from Chatteris a week. It’s important for the church to look after the most vulnerable,” the Rev Canon Wendy Thomson, vicar at the Parish Church of St Peter & St Paul, said.
The food bank, which runs from the town’s parish church, is in partnership with the likes of Aldi, Jack’s, BP Garage on Huntingdon Road and Citizens Advice, as well as the Trussell Trust which aims to provide emergency food and support to those living in or close to poverty.
But it’s not just food that is the key ingredient to getting by.
Medical supplies and health advice are also at hand, with the added benefit of being able to pray.
“If someone has a problem or in crisis, we signpost them to the relevant agencies. It’s about making them comfortable,” said Janet Mandley, a parish nurse at George Clare Surgery and volunteer at the food bank.
Ms Mandley, who worked as a diabetes specialist before retiring in 2017, has been a parish nurse for two years and in her latest role, aims to make positive changes to peoples’ lives.
“Some people feel very intimidated to ask for help. As we’re coming out of COVID, there will be a great deal of mental health issues that are broadening,” she said.
“As a parish nurse, one of the things we can do for people is pray with them, which we can’t as NHS nurses.
“It’s an additional gift. The whole ethos about parish nurses is about wholeperson healthcare, looking after physical, mental and social wellbeing.”
The food bank has come a long way since the times of Rev Canon Thomson providing food from her front room, and while also running online services for children and adults, she’s glad to still be making an impact on her local community.
“Food is just the first thing people would come forward for,” she said.
“A lot of people that are receiving the food are isolating. In the past, I was feeding people in my front room.
“That was when I started the food bank because it was not possible to sustain that, so I’m really pleased it’s running so well.”
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