Food bank volunteers and scrubs-maker praised for role during pandemic
Volunteers from North Kirklees are being featured in a new online exhibition celebrating people who have stepped up during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Vicar of Cleckheaton, Rev Brunel James, and volunteer Joan Oddy, both of Cleckheaton Food Bank, are part of a photographic exhibition launched to mark National Volunteers’ Week this week (June 1-7).
Third Sector Leaders Kirklees (TSL) has put the exhibition together and it can be viewed online before eventually becoming part of Kirklees Council’s Museums and Galleries collection.
Becky Bracey, volunteer development manager at TSL, said: “We have experienced a year like no other and we wanted to do something special as a permanent reminder of the significant role volunteers have played during the pandemic.
“We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has volunteered or simply been ‘neighbourly’ during this time. The power of communities to pull together and help each other has been truly inspiring.”
Cleckheaton Food Bank started as part of a Churches Together project in April 2020 as a response to the start of the pandemic. Rev James said it was amazing how the project had grown organically as more people got involved.
“It’s been quite spontaneous and people have shown a lot of character and ingenuity,” he said.
Demand remains high and the food bank supported 100 households in the last two months.
“We keep thinking it might peak or plateau but it hasn’t,” said Rev James. “We are not out of the woods yet and there is still turbulence in the economy and there could be a fall-out from evictions re-starting and furlough ending.”
Joan, who joined the food bank in May last year, said: “It’s very satisfying helping people directly, knowing you are putting food on the table.”
Another volunteer featured in the exhibition is Amy, from Thornhill, who was already supporting new parents over the phone as a breastfeeding peer supporter with Locala when the pandemic struck and so was able to continue providing this vital lifeline for isolated new parents.
She also quickly became involved in helping to make scrubs for frontline health workers who were dealing with Covid-19.
Amy said: “It was an amazing project, and it was a privilege to be involved. At a time of real loneliness and anxiety here was a group of strangers all working together (yet entirely separately) as a solid unit.
"I am so proud to have played a part in the whole thing, and proud to be part of such a passionate and hard-working community of women.”
To view the exhibition, visit https://volunteering.tslkirklees.org.uk/category/pandemic-volunteering-stories.