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  • Writer's picturestevose31

‘The milkman of human kindness’ lives in Bexley Food Bank!

I work with Bexley ResearchNet, which is a group of people with learning disabilities who work to improve services in Bexley. They are part of Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust. We are planning to do some work with Bexley Food Bank, which is run by The Trussell Trust.

I'm about to use a term that I feel embarrassed of using but as you can't see me I don't mind! I was sent to work at Erith Food Bank this Tuesday morning to gather 'intel'! To find out how it works and how people can get food. The Erith Food Bank is based at Queen Street Baptist Church. I arrived at 8am but it looked like no one was there. I now realise that there is more than one church in Erith.

I was met by Gill, the manager who was so lovely and she showed me the ropes. I was also introduced to all the volunteers, without whom there would be no food banks. I met Steve, who was a retired GP from Swanley and several people who used to work at Queen Mary's Hospital. It just shows you that that kindness runs in the blood of health and social care staff. Everyone knew exactly what their role was and it runs so smoothly.

I started off with replenishing the food from the storage. This meant going back and forth from the church to the large containers where everything was stored. I did so many trips and loads of lifting (I don't need to go the gym this week!). Next was helping pick up all the rubbish outside which was mainly due to yesterdays storm. Then I was on spotting duty. This involved coding every item to a colour - different colours represented when the expiry date was. This was the hardest part because it was really hard to see the date on some items.

There were dividers between us and the shop front. Running the shop front was a lovely and well organised lady called Kate. She saw one family at a time. Firstly she checked that they had their vouchers for food. These vouchers could be collected at Citizen Advice Bureau, GP surgeries, libraries and job centres. Families were treated with respect, as equals and this showed in how relaxed everything was. The last family was served at 11.45am. In total we saw 27 families that morning.

Gill is coming to meet with Bexley ResearchNet next Monday. I was so impressed with how the food banks are organised and it works like clockwork. Everyone I met there was so friendly, welcoming and dedicated to make sure that no one goes hungry.

These people are the real 'milkmen of human kindness'.

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