Stuart French, Warehouse Manager

As we head towards the winter months, we are facing an urgent need for more volunteers, and in particular, for willing individuals to take up shifts at our warehouse. We spoke to Warehouse Manager, Stuart French about our ongoing need for more volunteers and why they are needed now more than ever.

Read on to hear Stuart’s insight into the demands of the Foodbank and the challenges that we face as we head into the difficult winter period.

What is behind the urgent need for more volunteers?

To put it simply, we don’t have the volunteer numbers to sustain the current level of need. The Foodbank is already facing unprecedented need for our services and as we head towards the winter months, we expect to get even busier. In the warehouse, we are currently having to pack around 130 crates of emergency food for Thursday and Friday’s deliveries, and around 100 crates between Monday and Wednesday. This is without including the food supplied to our Fairbite social supermarkets. Although we are, of course, incredibly grateful to those who already volunteer, this sheer volume just isn’t fair or sustainable for our current volunteers to tackle alone.

What is the current situation like in the warehouse?

As we get closer to Christmas, the need for dedicated volunteers increases further. Typically, donations increase as it gets colder, as the charity is more in the public consciousness. Added to that, we have the annual Tesco collection and dates in the calendar, like Harvest when we receive donations from schools, churches and other organisations. While we are so thankful for the generosity of the public, we do not have enough volunteers at the warehouse to process, sort, and pack the donations. This is why we desperately need people to come forward and lend a hand.

What will the volunteers be doing?

Mainly, we need volunteers to pack emergency food parcels and sort incoming donations at our main warehouse off Cowley Road on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons, and on some mornings. We have quite a bit of flexibility on what shifts volunteers can pick up on each day due to the level of availability at the moment. Simply, if you have any spare time for a couple of hours between Monday and Friday, we would love to hear from you.

How many volunteers are you looking for?

It totally varies on the days you are able to come in and we will always try and accommodate you. For example, we do not have any volunteers available to help on Thursday afternoons, so would be looking for four or five people to cover that one shift. Overall, we probably need about 30 new volunteers in order for us to operate at full capacity across all of the shifts.

If someone is considering volunteering for the first time, what would your message to them be?

As a volunteer of Cambridge City Foodbank, you will be helping local people, all while working within a friendly and supportive team. It is also incredibly rewarding and the Foodbank team, myself and our visitors would all be so thankful for your effort. If you would like to get involved, email: [email protected]