Photographer Michelle snaps families for food bank donations
PUBLISHED: 14:32 09 June 2020 | UPDATED: 10:28 10 June 2020
An NHS administrator and portrait photographer has been focussing on supporting her local food bank.
Michelle O’Toole, who works for the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT) at Chatterton House in King’s Lynn, has been taking doorstep portraits during lockdown in return for donations of food.
She started taking pictures in 2013 when she was diagnosed with generalised anxiety disorder.
“A GP I worked with at the time suggested I take up a hobby for distraction. I mainly photograph couples, families and weddings,” she said.
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With all her booked work as Rose O’Toole Photos postponed for the year due to coronavirus Mrs O’Toole, 37, found herself at a loose end. “I am currently working from home so am saving an hour a day travel time and I wanted to use that time within my community,” she said.
“I approached my local food bank in Wisbech but sadly they only accept full-time volunteers, so I came up with another way of helping them. I offered family portraits on the doorstep and I took payment in food bank items. I thought I would maybe get three or four families apply but within two hours of posting on Facebook on May 1, I was booked up for two weeks solid. I have been doing the shoots in the evenings and on a Sunday.”
As word got out around Wisbech where she lives, Mrs O’Toole was nominated for “local lockdown hero”. A bakery was making cupcakes for people helping the community during lockdown. She said: “I received some lovely treats and safe to say I ate them all.”
So far, she has photographed 26 families, including 10 dogs and two new-born babies, and her final five families are booked in next week.
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“I have done six trips to the food bank so far, donating 27 boxes of food plus some cash donations. People have been so generous. The donations have varied as I set no minimum or limit. Some people could only spare a few cans of beans and soup while others gave me five-plus bags of goods. But it doesn’t matter as it is all going to a great cause. Many of the families didn’t know anything about the local for how to donate and many have promised to continue to donate from now on.
“I feel like I have spread a little joy and given some families images to treasure along the way.”
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