This last week has been upsetting and distressing. Our news feeds have felt filled with sadness, from the horrific reaction by the police and the government in the US to the Black Lives Matter protests, to our government’s prioritisation of the economy over people’s lives (in particular the lives of BAME people, who have a significantly higher risk of dying of COVID-19 compared to ethnically white people), to the statistic that last year a football pitch sized amount of tropical rainforest was lost every six seconds.
There will also be difficult things going on in our personal lives, such as the grief of losing a loved one, financial pressures of the lockdown, or strain of being unable to go outside and see friends and family.
We at NFS Bristol want to send a message of love and support to all of you. We know how hard everyday life can feel at the moment, and we are so grateful to you for taking on an extra task by volunteering to help your community.
We’re also proud to have supplied food and water to the BLM protestors in Bristol yesterday. We’ve reached a landmark in our city for the recognition of the disproportionate oppression black people face, both during the trans-Atlantic slave trade and now. The spirit of mutual aid is one of intersectional solidarity, and we stand squarely with our BAME siblings.
Keep up the good work, we’re fighting the good fight and making a massive difference to so many people’s lives.
Here’s some of the feedback we’ve received from people we have supported:
Absolutely amazing! The deliveries have been life-saving. Without the service, we’d have literally been starving.– Henry
This is a life-saver. It means I don’t have to take the kids to the shops and put them in danger, as one of them has additional needs.– Anonymous
NFS has been a massive help to Creative Youth Network staff and service users. Many of our service users are unable to continue in existing work or find new ways of working which have resulted in a lack of finances to spend on food shops. There really was no other option for some of our service users so NFS has really been a lifesaver during this difficult and uncertain time.– Harriet Hayes, Creative Youth Network
We’re still asking for your help to spread awareness of the work of NFS!
We want you to take a picture of yourself on the phones, delivering meals or whatever you do to support NFS. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org and share them on social media #NFSBristol. Bonus points if you can get in a Bristol landmark.
Please make sure though, that you don’t reveal recipients’ faces names, addresses or any other personal information. We want to use these pictures to promote the NFS so if you contribute, we’re asking that you give us the rights to use them in press-packs and presentations to different organisations for promotion. You can retract permission at any time by letting us know by email.
Our total number of meals delivered currently stands at 19,341, which has fed 2,765people.
It looks like we are starting to see a decrease in orders, as last week we have only delivered 2,465 meals to 353 people. We say only, but this is in comparison to our busiest week, in which we delivered 3,340 meals. We don’t think anyone should have to rely on charity to feed themselves, and so we are still saddened and angered that so many people in Bristol are in this position.
While we’re hopeful that the decrease in orders is due to people being back in work, or finding other means of support, we’re worried that this could also mean that some people are being missed, or being forced to work in unsafe conditions.
Meet the Team
Did you know that the National Food Service is run entirely by volunteers? We’ll introduce you to one team member in each newsletter, this time with one of our drivers, Rolf.
Having lived in many locations around the UK, I moved to Bristol in 2000 after regularly visiting friends for weekends and discovering how vibrant, diverse and friendly the city really is. I’m not planning to move again.
I’ve been furloughed since early April from my role as a Design Manager for a company specialising in low-carbon and renewable energy solutions. My work often involves a lot of travelling, but when I’m in Bristol, I really enjoy socialising with family and friends.
I had always planned to volunteer when I had time available. I thought it would be related to fuel poverty, as this is where I have some experience. Then when the coronavirus arrived, I just wanted to assist the community in any way possible. I saw the NFS volunteer request on Facebook, I messaged, had a brief phone call and started delivering food parcels from Baggator in Easton the next day.
I’ve been delivering food parcels since the 3rd of April to locations all over the city, and distributing cooked food, ingredients and vegetables between the kitchens at Baggator and Lockleaze Sports Centre. We have also been supplying hundreds of frozen meals to other community centres in North and South Bristol. It’s staggering how many ‘hidden’ vulnerable individuals and families there are in this city. I think that all the staff and volunteers at NFS are doing an incredible job supporting the wider Bristol community. I’ve found it extremely rewarding to help out and found that people receiving food parcels are genuinely grateful for the assistance.
Luckily during the lockdown, all my family and friends have been ok, and we have had regular video calls to cheer ourselves up. We even celebrated my Mum’s 80th birthday over Zoom!
I’m looking forward to a few BBQs once the danger has passed and we’re all able to get out more.
Unfortunately, a few of our drivers have reported some instances of aggressive behaviour from recipients during their deliveries. Rest assured, there have only been a handful of these cases, but we want to take the time to go over how confrontational behaviour should be dealt with.
Your priority should always be your own safety, and not delivering the meals. We take a zero-tolerance stance towards any bad behaviour towards our volunteers.
If the person to whom you are attempting to deliver meals is angry or aggressive (this could include verbal abuse as well as physical intimidation), it is not your responsibility to calm them down, or insist they take the food. You must get back in your car immediately, drive a safe distance away, such as around the corner, and then phone your coordinator and tell them what has happened. This will help inform our decision making as to whether we will deliver meals to them again and whether we refer them to other services for help.
Again, this kind of behaviour is very rare, but please do take care of your own safety and report any issues you may have to your coordinator.
We are always looking for other ways in which we can help you, and if you have any ideas, please share them with your coordinator.
Our work goes on
We have been blown away by the response to our fundraising! We originally had the target of £5,000, but having reached that last week we have increased our goal to £6,000.
During these times of financial hardship, it’s fantastic that so many individuals have been able to make donations to us.
As one of our donors has said “It’s both a shame and great that you exist! Every human deserves a good meal”.
We know not everyone is able to financially support us, and the time we all put into the phone lines, driving and cooking is the best kind of support we could ask for.
We really appreciate regular donations, as these allow us to plan for the future and operate in a more sustainable way, you can now do that with a regular direct debit donation. Find out more here.
Alternatively, you can make a one-off investment in our project with this useful guideas to what we could spend each level of donation on.
We would also be grateful if you could share this with your wider network, and any organisations which are looking to support those impacted by the lockdown.
As always, keep up the great work, we’ll see each other through this. ✊
– Louise, Carys, Pete and the coordination team