It is that time of year again, when we start our annual reverse advent collection for the food bank. It is predicted that this year the food banks will be needed more than ever. How about lending your support to vulnerable families in your community? Now is the time to help the food banks this winter.
Here is what the Trussell Trust has to say about a looming crisis, as the economic fall out of the pandemic affects people’s livelihoods:
“Our new research, carried out with Heriot Watt University, estimates 846,000 parcels will need to be provided by our network to people in crisis during October to December 2020 – a 61% increase on last year. And an additional 670,000 people will be destitute by the end of the year, meaning they cannot afford essentials like housing, energy, and food. “
On top of the problems caused by the pandemic, changes to the system has seen many vulnerable people, such as those with long term health conditions and single parents, endure harsh reductions to the benefits they receive.
How you can help the food banks
This is the third year that we are taking part in this brilliant campaign run by the UK Money Bloggers Community. Our readers have been fabulous in offering their support in response, either by creating a collection box at home or making a financial donation to the Trussell Trust.
We all know how traditional advent calendars work; you open a little window each day in the run up to Christmas and take out a chocolate or small gift. With the reverse advent, you add some non-perishable food or a personal care item instead (or as well!).
Because it is important for us to help the food banks before Christmas, it is best to start your collection in early November, to give volunteers plenty of time to process your contribution before they close for the holidays.
How it works
Obviously, it is in no way practical to go shopping each day for a single contribution, especially as we are about to go into a month of lock down. However, if you have children, they will enjoy choosing something from your stash to put in the box each day. I tend to add a week’s worth of items with each shop I do. We will fill up a box and deliver it to the food bank in early December.
It’s fun to see the box filling up, and I like to share it here and on social media to encourage others to join in.
Of course, you don’t need to have a collection box at home, and could put your donations straight into the supermarket collection point on your way out of the store.
What to give
It is best to check exactly what your local food bank is in need of (you can find yours here).
However, generally speaking, these are the most useful things to donate:
- Tinned tomatoes/ pasta sauce
- Lentils, beans and pulses
- Tinned meat
- Tinned vegetables
- Tinned fruit
- UHT milk
- Fruit juice
- Toiletries – deodorant, toilet paper, shower gel, shaving gel, shampoo, soap, toothbrushes, tooth paste, hand wipes
- Household items – laundry liquid detergent, laundry powder, washing up liquid
- Feminine products – sanitary towels and tampons
- Baby supplies – nappies, baby wipes and baby food
- Face masks and hand sanitiser
Because it is coming up to Christmas, I also add in some nice biscuits, sweets and cakes.
Other ways to help
Spread the word! You don’t have to have a blog to do this. Share this post on your Facebook feed and encourage workmates, friends and family to join in.
If you have time on your hands, you could volunteer to sort and distribute the food. Many regular volunteers are elderly and may have to shield, leaving the food banks short staffed.
If you need help
I am conscious that, as you are reading a blog about saving money, some of you may not be able to commit to donating 24-30 items. You may even be in need of help from the food bank yourself.
Food banks work closely with frontline professionals such as social workers, health visitors and doctors to identify people in need of help. They can refer people to a local food bank by giving them a food bank voucher.
Alternatively, if you live in England or Wales, you can call 0808 2082138 for free (open Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm) to talk confidentially with a trained Citizens Advice adviser.
As well as issuing you with a food bank voucher if required, they can help provide support to maximise your income, help you navigate the benefits system, and identify any additional grants you could be entitled to.
If you are fortunate to have enough money to make sure that you and your family never experience hunger, here is your opportunity to offer support to those who are struggling. Help the food banks this winter!
Come and join me on Instagram to see the progress of my reverse advent collection as we go through the month, and please share your thoughts in the comments.