Helping North Paddington Food Bank Tackle The Pandemic

North Paddington Food Bank Volunteers Loading Food Parcels into a Westway CT Minibus

As we enter what is hopefully the last days of lockdown restrictions for the Pandemic, we found out in greater detail how we helped North Paddington Food Bank (NPFB) adapt to the lockdown.

We based this article on a video interview with NPFB’s Operation Manager Olivier Blanning.

About North Paddington Food Bank.

In 2013 Coral Williams, a local independent solicitor and Emma Morgan, a dedicated Community Officer noted repeated food bank voucher requests, and food aid during their work at A2Dominion Beethoven Centre. As a result, they established North Paddington Food Bank in 2013. Serving the areas of W10 and W9 the food banks aim is that no one in these areas should go hungry. They help a variety of people, from single mothers to big families and elderly people. Their biggest segment they help are people of working age who cannot work because of various reasons. In 2020 alone, they helped a whooping 27,512 people and 12,956 households with food parcels.

Unprecedented Times and Unprecedented Demand

When the pandemic struck and lockdown forced us all to work from home where we could. Yet, food banks like North Paddington faced enormous challenges. North Paddington had previously only done collections for their food parcels. But, lockdown rules meant this was no longer an option. This meant that North Paddington Food Bank had quickly adapted to delivering food parcels to their users. Further increasing their operational challenges, they saw demand for their services exponentially increase. Before the lockdown, they served 90-100 households a week. However, during the peak of the pandemic for them in May/June 2020, they served 700 households a week, feeding around 1500 people a week. While demand has reduced since, North Paddington Food Bank has still doubled in the amount of people they help. They now provide food for 200 households, feeding roughly 450 people per week.

To compound the problem of rapid scaling of their operations, North Paddington Food Bank buys around 50% of their food for their users. When pandemic panic hit the UK, many people started bulk buying goods causing shelves to be stripped of products. Supermarkets were forced to implement “2 per customer” item limits on various products they sold. This caused the buying a team of North Paddington Food bank an extra headache, as these restrictions also applied to them, forcing them to find alternative ways to get food for their users.

Local Solidarity and Westway CT’s Help

While the problems that North Paddington Food Bank faced were huge, they not insurmountable. Luckily, the lockdown and furlough resulted in many people have free time. Thus, North Paddington Food Bank saw an influx of volunteers who helped them pack food parcels, serve customers, and deliver food parcels.

Westway CT worked with several food banks during the lockdown to help them transport food between locations and deliver food to customers. The height of the first lockdown Westway CT was providing 2 minibuses a day for North Paddington Food Bank 5 days a week for deliveries.

For the financial year of 2020, Westway CT helped the food bank deliver 9536 food parcels, which in some weeks Westway CT delivered over 600 food parcels on behalf of North Paddington Food Bank.

When asked about the importance of Westway CT’s services to North Paddington Food Bank, Olivia Blanning stated,

“Westway CT have massively helped us throughout the entire pandemic. They’ve helped us get food to people who need it. And It has been great to work with another community-based organisation and be able to have that local solidarity”

Olivia Blanning, North Paddington Food Bank’s Operations Manager.

How You Can Help Support NPFB?

 The team at North Paddington has done a fantastic job in scaling rapidly and adapting to new circumstances but they could always do with your support.

The food bank buys in 50% of their food, so the best way to support them financially as the average of a food parcel costs £15. Though any amount you can afford to donate can help them with their efforts, so why not donate to them today?

Or you can donate food or toiletries to them. Here is their shopping list of items they most want.

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