On Wednesday 19th November, volunteers and organisers from across East Kent met for discussion and networking as they explored how the role of foodbanks could be enhanced.
Foodbanks play a vital role in food relief, but the sector is increasingly contemplating how it can further develop its support for people in crisis, and connect them to other services.
Called Foodbank Plus, the evening was organised by Together Canterbury, a partnership between the Diocese of Canterbury and Church Urban Fund, the Church of England’s charity working to alleviate poverty.
Kon Apokis, Together Canterbury Development Worker, explained that as well discussion, the purpose of the evening was to bring together volunteers who might not otherwise get a chance to meet altogether:
“There are currently eight foodbanks within the area of the Diocese, largely run by volunteers, all of which are doing an excellent job independently of meeting the needs of those in need in their communities.
“We were keen however to bring this dedicated, compassionate and knowledgeable group of volunteers together, to give thanks for what they do, and to give them the opportunity to meet and share their experiences, explore ideas and to see what exciting and useful collaborations might develop.”
Thirty two volunteers came and shared a foodbank supper, which was put together only using ingredients likely to be found in a foodbank parcel. It was cooked by the Reverend Andy Bawtree, who is involved with the Dover Foodbank. He said he was delighted to be part of the initiative:
“Jesus invites us all to partake in a heavenly banquet. This evening we shared in a Foodbank version of a banquet in which we gave thanks for the incredible support that those present give to those in the margins of society at their utmost time of need.”
Alan Thomson, a volunteer at Dover and Deal Foodbanks said the evening had been very positive:
“The evening has been a great opportunity to meet people and build relationships that will develop into activity.”
It is now hoped that these evenings will become a more regular occurrence, and will lead to more information sharing and collaboration between the different food banks.