While much of the country’s workforce is currently holed up indoors, there’s a massive amount of manpower still at large, quietly going about its vital duties with often little or no recognition.
It is the millions of volunteers, whose tireless support of charities and good causes, it could be argued, has never been more important than at this terrible time.
In Wellingborough, a new such team of generous helpers has come together to ensure that the town’s most vulnerable, poor and disadvantaged are fed during the current COVID-19 crisis, in a project co-ordinated by the Daylight Centre Fellowship.
Despite being forced to close its doors to its usual clients – those who drop in for a lunchtime meal or to access the food bank – the charity’s new volunteers are continuing its vital role by delivering meals to those who need them most.
Among those who have stepped up to play their part in the new scheme is John Mulhall, who didn’t have to think twice about taking on such a role: “I usually work for three projects in the town which involve our taking out food, comfort and spiritual support to those who, before this crisis, lived on the streets, but of course those schemes have all had to stop under the current lockdown rules” explained John.
“Although those people have now been housed to try to keep them and others safe, their needs are no less severe and, with no money to feed themselves, nor direct access to the food bank or the Centre, taking food to them is the only way to ensure that they don’t go hungry, and I just couldn’t bear to think of that happening” he added.
John is now part of a rota of some 35 volunteers representing a host of organisations from across the town, including Street Pastors, Street Church, Street Meals, Teen Challenge and the St Vincent de Paul Society as well as those from local churches and of course the Centre’s own team of helpers.
They are now working in pairs, carefully observing social distancing rules at all times, to provide meals and an accompanying snack pack every day for up to 50 recipients who now have accommodation in hotels, hostels and shared houses in eleven locations across Wellingborough.
On their allotted days, John’s wife, Julie, microwaves the frozen meals, which are supplied by the recently-formed Northamptonshire Emergency Food Aid Alliance, at the Centre before John sets off to deliver them, and it’s the latter role which provides him with all the reward he needs: “I ring the bell and then step back a few paces to wait for door to open and I can’t tell you how thankful everyone is, not only for the meals themselves but for the reassurance that, even living on the outside of society as they do, they know they haven’t been forgotten” explained John.
The Daylight Centre Fellowship’s food delivery scheme is particularly vital because it supplies a hot, nutritious meal to those most in need who may not have access to kitchen equipment or the necessary skills to prepare meals for themselves, for which food parcels are inappropriate.
It is set to continue for some weeks while the lockdown remains in place, which is why its co-ordinator, DCF Trustee James Bellamy, is appealing for more volunteers to come forward: “The Centre’s ongoing role is to support those who are at their most vulnerable, whether because of complex mental health issues, learning difficulties, drug or alcohol abuse or isolation, often not of their own making, and although they cannot currently come to us, we must still reach out to them with our support” said James.
“So if you have a couple of hours a week and can simply work a microwave or have access to a vehicle – or can perhaps make a donation to ensure that we can continue to provide this help for as long as in necessary – please do get in touch.
“In the meantime, I offer a massive and heartfelt thank you to our current team of amazing volunteers, like John and Julie, who are making such a difference to the lives of so many and without whom we could not have achieved what we have so far” he added.
To find out more about the work of the Daylight Centre Fellowship, including becoming a volunteer, please call 01933 446490 or to make an online donation, please visit www.daylightcf.org