Craigavon Area Food Bank

The John Wilson Memorial Trust has made a £10,000 donation to the Craigavon Area Food Bank to help this wonderful organisation continue their important work.

The money has been used to purchase a large van to meet the increasing logistical requirements of transporting food from the area’s donation points to Craigavon Area Food Bank’s central warehouse. It will then be used to distribute the food to homes across the borough, including their three distribution centres.

Diane Guiney, Project Manager, Craigavon Area Food Bank, said, “Before lockdown, we were already beginning to struggle to efficiently deliver food to our distribution centres. Our small van was no longer big enough to manage the amount of food that each centre required and that put additional pressure on our amazing team of volunteers, as we had to make multiple journeys.

“This generous donation has allowed us to purchase a larger van which allows us to collect donations several times a week and deliver it to those who need it most. Due to the pandemic, we are anticipating a marked rise in referrals, and this will again increase how much food that will need to be transported to the distribution centres, so having this van will make a big difference.

“Every single one of our volunteers has one thing in mind – to help as many people that we possibly can. That includes the provision of food, but also releasing hope and a sense of value to those we serve. I truly believe that, thanks to the John Wilson Memorial Trust, this van is going to be absolutely vital for us to manage the increasing numbers of those in our community who find themselves in crisis.”

Dr John Wilson, Chairman of Ulster Carpets and Trustee, said “The John Wilson Memorial Trust was set up in memory of my late father, one of the five children of George Walter Wilson who founded the company in 1938. My father believed strongly in helping the local community therefore I am delighted that the trust has been able to help and support this vital local service.

“The work carried out by these volunteers is helping at least 4,000 people a year by getting food to families in crisis and helping them to find a way forward. We are delighted that our donation will help alleviate some of the pressures on the volunteers to continue this essential work.”

During the pandemic, over 12,500 people across the Armagh, Craigavon and Banbridge Council Area needed help with food provision, which equates to 5% of the population. Craigavon Area Food Bank helped to distribute between 400 and 500 boxes of essentials per week as part of a Government scheme to help those most in need.

Diane added, “We try to meet people’s needs as much as we possibly can, not just in terms of giving them what they need in a food package but also linking them up with other support organisations who can help. We feel that a partnership approach between different groups and agencies is the way forward.”

The pandemic also brought a lot of pros and cons on the volunteering front for the food bank. With a team around of around 40 volunteers and one part-time member of staff, numbers were quickly reduced as many had to shield. However, those who had recently been furloughed stepped up to take their place and help the charity.

“We are always in need of more volunteers, so we would be delighted to hear from anyone who is interested in helping,” added Diane. “As many people have realised recently, the future is very uncertain and we strongly believe that in the coming months are services our going to be in even more demand.

“We rely on the generosity of the general public and, in particular, we need donations of tinned potatoes while extras like chocolate are more than welcome. With the additional hygiene measures in place, there’s also a need for more soap. But all donations are welcome and gratefully received.”

For more information on the Craigavon Area Food Bank and how you can help, click on the links.

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