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North Paddington Food Bank & Westway CT

July 16, 2021

During the Pandemic Westway CT supported local food banks with vital deliveries.

We spoke to Olivia Blanning about how Westway CT is working with North Paddington Food Bank to help local residents and communities get the things they need.


How Long has North Paddington Food Bank (NPFB) been working with Westway CT?

So, we started using Westway CT during the first lockdown. When demand for the food bank was rising exponentially. We had to swap our service to being completely deliveries. And yeah, Westway CT came in and were doing what 2 van routes of deliveries a day for us 5 days a week. That lasted the whole of the first lockdown. And then in the beginning of this year, as restrictions started to sort of ease a bit. We’ve seen we’ve had fewer volunteer drivers available. So, we started using Westway CT again in April. To make our deliveries and that’s been going about 3 months now.

How does Westway CT help NPFB ?

I mean most simply Westway CT helps us get food to our customers. We wouldn’t be able to complete all of our deliveries ourselves. We have a number of customers who, for various reasons aren’t able to make it to the food bank physically, who have mobility issues or live really far away. And yeah, Westway CT just helps us to get food parcels to those who need them.

How many households were NPFB helping before the Pandemic?

So, before the pandemic we were serving roughly I think between 90 and 100 households per week.  And that was only in collections, so we just had people coming to our centre and collecting the food.

And at the Pandemic’s peak, how many were you helping?

So, the peak of the pandemic for us was May/June 2020 and at that point we were serving I think up to about 700 households a week, which is about 1500 people.

How many households are you helping now?

So, at the moment, we serve roughly 200 households a week. That’s about 450 people. And we deliver to about half of those.

Who do you help?

So, we have a pretty varied customer base, from single mothers with children to big families to elderly people a real…a real mix. I’d say the biggest demographic is probably people of working age who for various reasons are unable to work.

Their customer base is pretty varied from single mothers to big families to elderly people. Their biggest segment is working aged people who due to various reasons are unable to work.

How did NPFBk cope in the Pandemic?

That’s a good question.  We had to scale up massively in a very short amount of time. Demand just kind of went up exponentially. And luckily, kept sort of the…the flip side of the pandemic was there were a lot of people with a lot of time on their hands who wanted to help, and we just had… we were inundated with support from the community. We had a massive influx of volunteers who worked in the food bank packing parcels, serving customers, delivering to their homes. And I think yeah, the support from local people and volunteers and from local businesses offering… like Westway CT offering to deliver for us. That is what got us through I think yeah.  

What was the Biggest Challenge for you in Lockdown?

So, I think there were probably 2. One was having to swap completely to doing home deliveries where before we had only ever done collections.  And then demand growing so much that we were doing 600 deliveries in a week.

And the second was our supplies where all supermarkets were having massive issues with stock and supplies and implemented 2 item per customer rules that obviously applied to us, and we had to go… we had to spend a lot of effort finding alternative wholesalers and suppliers.

Why was Westway CT important to NPFB?

So Westway CT has massively helped us through the entire pandemic, really. They have helped us to get food to people who need it.   And it’s just been great to work with another community-based organisation and be able to have that local solidarity, I think.

helpful to NPFB helping them get food to people who need it. It has also been nice to work with another community-based organisation and have that local solidarity.

What does an Average food parcel contain?

Everybody gets a standard mix of long-life vegetarian products to start with. So, we’ll start with a box of cereal, some soups, tinned tomatoes. A mix of tinned veg. Some baked beans. Some sort of pasta or curry sauce.  A mixture of pasta and rice. A jam or peanut butter, some sort of spread.  Some tea or coffee. Some sachets of sugar. It’s also nice to put a savoury snack which is often like crackers. A sweet snack that is often biscuits. A long-life carton of milk. And we also make sure everyone gets some basic toiletries, that means some loo roll, some shampoo, and some soap. And then any other little extras we have on the day, so today we have some cereal bars.  

How can people support NPFB?

Yes, so actually, the best way to support us is financially. We buy in 50% of our stock and the average food parcel cost is about £15.

So that’s probably the best way to support us.  We also always really in need of toiletries. You think they’re not the first people think of when they think of a food bank. But things like toothbrushes and toothpaste, and shower gel are always really highly in demand and always very greatly received.

Find Out More

Westway CT works with several other charitable organisations, helping enable them and their members to access a wider range of opportunities and overcome challenges. One such other organisation we have helped is Minds United who we provided low-cost transport for, which enabled them to go to tournaments together. You can find out what it meant to them here.

This video interview also has an accompanying article which contains extra information on how we helped North Paddington Food Bank.