Friday, 14 August 2020

Helping the Foodbank at Harlesden Methodist Church

The Foodbank at Harlesden Methodist Church continues to provide for those in need on Friday mornings. The Foodbank is run by volunteers, who are keen to help others in the community. Anyone can attend the Foodbank as it does not rely on referrals. The clients need to sign in and are given a ticket that they must keep. The ticket is used to call clients into the main hall (five at a time) to collect food.

Our Church at Harlesden support the Foodbank in person as Br Edwin is a Volunteer and by donation of food items two or three times a year. Br Edwin is keen for other members to volunteer.

Food is collected from various food outlets and supermarkets by the ‘Felix project’ and ‘City Harvest-London. The food is delivered to the Methodist Church around 9.30am so it can be unloaded, sorted and organised in readiness for opening at 11am. The food is arranged on tables in the main hall by type. There are vegetables in one area, fruit and baby foods in one area, bread and pastries in one area, drinks and grocery in another area. In an adjacent area fresh meat, ready meals and dairy. Occasionally the Foodbank will receive end of season goods, for example Easter eggs.

Under normal operational conditions the clients are offered food with tea and coffee as they wait for their number to be called. The clients are called to the main hall in groups of five to control the flow. Overall the behaviour of the clients is excellent, however occasionally some clients become impatient with each other and a quiet word is needed.

Just before opening at 11am, a few notices are shared with the clients followed by a reflection and a prayer. The volunteers in the main hall are also gathered and again notices, a reflection and a prayer are said. Additionally, the numbers of clients that have signed in is advised (this is normally between 85-100). The numbers are used by the volunteers to aid portion size and quantities, so that everyone can be served.

On completion of the Foodbank session the tables are sanitised and stacked. Food cannot remain on site and everything must go. The premises are then handed back to the Methodist Church.

During the lockdown period the clients were not allowed to access the premises and had to form an orderly line leaving the two-metre social distance outside. Two volunteers were allocated to ensure that this requirement was met. Within the premises the number of volunteers was restricted to six people. The format had to change, as food bags were now prepared and handed out to the clients queuing outside.

If your Church cannot run your own Foodbank, or other social support group, consider partnering with another local Church and give God the glory.

edwin quillan
Br Edwin Quildan
Minister of Harlesden and Bedford Queens Park Congregations

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