23.09.21 Liveryman David Cole

How our donations help those in need

As part of our commitment to the City, our Livery made a donation to the Trussell Trust food bank in Hackney, which covers the Square Mile, to help people get through the Covid lockdown. I was delighted to be able to join the Master and the chair of the Charity Committee, Eric Wallbank, in September to visit its headquarters and warehouse, up the road from Old Street roundabout, writes Liveryman David Cole.

The warehouse is something of a Tardis; what seems like a small building contains offices, distribution, sorting, and – taking up most of the space – several tonnes of food, toiletries, and other essentials. A small team of staff and a small army of volunteers take donations from individuals and companies, supplemented with goods bought with financial support, to put together and distribute food parcels with enough to get by for three days. These typically include cereal, soup, rice or pasta, tinned tomatoes, lentils or beans, tinned meat, tinned vegetables, tinned fruit, tea, coffee, UHT milk, fruit juice, and biscuits. Recipients do not necessarily have, or cannot afford to run, a fridge, a microwave, or an oven, and so everything distributed has to be non-perishable and can’t require cooking.

It goes without saying that lots of people have fallen on hard times during the past 18 months. I felt proud, as a Coachmaker, to see the difference that our donation made to people. Partly, this is through the direct support of food parcels. It is also through helping people get out of the situation they are in by signposting them to services that can support them, whether that be dealing with a long-term health issue or a short-term problem from losing a job. This is very much part of the Trussell Trust’s ethos of dealing with the underlying causes of food poverty. More than anything, though, we were able to help the Trussell Trust give people a little bit of hope during a dark time. Food banks should not exist – the Trussell Trust itself is quite clear about that. While there is a need for them, however, I hope we can continue to support the nearest food bank to the City.

The Master, Sarah Sillars OBE was equally impressed, “Tanya Whitfield, the Operations and General Manager at Hackney Foodbank is the only person you ever need to listen to if you want to understand that hard times meet all walks of life. Engineers, technicians, finance staff, hospitality workers, all disciplines that work in our industries and many more besides, are some of those who have hit hard times and need the essential crutch of food banks for support now. Their gratitude to the Coachmakers was palpable.”