Foodbank boss: I’m worried people are slipping through the net

Project manager Hannah Worsley . PHOTO: Nick Butcher

Project manager Hannah Worsley . PHOTO: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

The boss of Norwich Foodbank talks to editor David Powles about coping in coronavirus.

Rise in foodbanks use. Picture: David Jones/PA Wire

Rise in foodbanks use. Picture: David Jones/PA Wire - Credit: PA

“Dont be ashamed, just call us.”

That was the appeal from the boss of Norwich’s Foodbank today as she told of her fears people who need their support may still be slipping through the net.

Speaking to editor David Powles for the EDP Big Interview podcast, Hannah Worsley told how the service has had to remodel itself during the covid-19 crisis to ensure that it could still get out 1,000 food and support parcels since the outbreak began.

The project manager said: “We’ve managed to keep going but I always worry about the people who either don’t know how to contact us, are too proud to do so or don’t know they are eligible and it does worry me people out there are going without help. It’s almost like people feel it’s okay to ask for help for other people, but not themselves. As soon as you make it about themselves, suddenly it makes it a bit more real and people get more worried.

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“They should just get in touch. Once they’ve done that we can help or even give them other information if they need help from other agencies. That first phone call, whoever it is too, is really important.”

In normal times, Norwich Foodbank has 10 distribution centres and a warehouse on Ivy Road, Norwich, but during the last few weeks they’ve just operated out of the warehouse, distributing around 50 parcels a day, six-days-a-week.

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While their volunteer numbers remain good, there are other ways people can still help them and those in need.

Mrs Worsley said “Our donations are massively down because people aren’t shopping as much. People have been very generous with their money though so we can go and purchase goods ourselves. We’ll be able to cope and continue thanks to an awful lot of hard work and great teamwork from the guys.

“What we really need is neighbourhood collections and particularly things like instant mash, long-life sponge puddings and long-life fruit juice.”

On how those in need of their help were coping, she said: “I think a few had worried we’d stopped completely and when they realise we haven’t the relief in their voice is just incredible. On a small level, seeing someone different, that just breaks the day up and makes it better. Seeing someone that cares as well and is happy to have a conversation helps.”

Mrs Worsley, who joined the project in 2014, also reflected on some of the reasons why there remains an increased demand for the service in Norwich, adding: “We do still get people who think others use a foodbank out of personal choice and that if people didn’t do this or that, they could have a better life. It’s really not always that black and white. We meet people all the time who have had all of this stuff happen to them and sometimes it’s simply down to just bad luck.

“Benefits is a big issue, when they are delayed or have other problems. Low income is a big factor, people might be in work but it’s just not enough to pay the bills. There might be all sorts of reasons why they can’t work more hours and sometimes when they do the maths it turns out they’ll lose out by working more due to whatever other benefits they might lose.

“In the school holidays we see families under particular pressure because they have to pay for all the food and find things for their children to do.”


To listen to the interview in full log onto

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