As part of our volunteer spotlight series, profiling our volunteers across Cambridgeshire, this month we spoke to volunteer Becky Johnson from our distribution centre out in Cambourne. Having started volunteering with us in the months following the outbreak of COVID-19, Becky looks forward to a time when volunteers can sit down again and engage in conversation with foodbank users over a cup of coffee. Hear more about her time and experiences volunteering at our Cambourne centre …
How long have you been volunteering for the Foodbank and what inspired you to get involved?
I started volunteering for the foodbank last year in the early summer. I have a heart for people and especially those who are in need. Any one of us could be in need at some time and I believe strongly that we are here to help each other at these times. In the aftermath of the COVID-19 outbreak I had helped in the local volunteer taskforce but I felt that there was more I could do to help combat the issue of food poverty. The Foodbank inspired me with this aim to signpost people to other places for help and advice, so that individuals did not come to rely on emergency food parcels and instead could find their way to a better place.
What is a typical session like at Cambourne?
Our distribution centre is found in The Blue School hall which is now the community centre. I love the sessions at the hall as we have a great team of people led by Julie and Karla. I find it very rewarding when we help people and talk to them and see if we can do anything more.
What has been the true highlight of your time volunteering for the Foodbank?
At Christmas and Easter, we helped to prepare and distribute some hampers for those in need, working with local schools. This campaign was jointly coordinated by the foodbank and the local church and it was brilliant to see the faces of people light up with gratitude when they received their hampers! It made me feel I was doing something worthwhile.
And the biggest challenge?
Getting there on time! On a more serious note, the biggest challenge currently due to the impact of the pandemic is not being able to sit down and chat with people over a cup of coffee, getting to know their stories and finding out how exactly we might be able to help them. I hope we can get back to that soon.
I get upset when a person visits our centre in tears and with a story that has brought them to us that is so real and tragic. These are people who are educated and had good jobs and never thought they would find themselves in the situation that they are in. They feel worthless and they feel like a failure which makes me so sad. The children in particular, however, make me smile, especially when they are read a story and they listen intently while their mum or dad gets the bags of food sorted.
Where would you like to see the Foodbank in 12 months’ time?
I would like to see the coffee area back and I would like to see it utilised fully by those who need it so that, together, we can help build a better tomorrow.