Coronavirus: Foodbank chief salutes Oldham's community spirit

Date published: 24 March 2020

Father Tom Davis, the Chair of the Trustees of the Three Crowns-based Oldham Foodbank, has praised the community spirit paraded by local people in the face of the Coronavirus outbreak

Of course demand is high for the foodbank's offerings at present, but volunteers are working hard behind the scenes while also adhering to the strict new terms regarding social distancing.

Father Tom said: "The number of people being referred to us has doubled in the last week.

"We have now opened three hubs - in south Chadderton, at Neon and at the Honeyworld centre - to prevent people from having to come all the way into the centre of Oldham to get their vouchers honhoured

"We've been working with Action Together and other agencies to help with volunteer to make the food parcels up because now with the social distancing at the Three Crowns it's going to be very much we receive the voucher, that person goes and waits and then because we're already bagging up, we can then see people quicker than we would do in the usual way that we operate.

"At the moment we feel reasonably under control because verybody is pulling together.

"There's great communtiy spirit.

"Oldham Council have been outstanding in whatever help they can get, as well as people volunteering to help.

"We could still do with people volunteering.

"If they go through Action Together they are coordinating this on our behalf because our primary responsibilty is to make sure that we've got the food parcels ready."

As far as people who need to use the foodbank are concerned, most agencies are now doing telephone conversations and they will either electronically send Oldham a voucher or they will tell the foodbank staff who it is that is coming.

With that information foodbank staff will be able to issue a voucher and honour that voucher from the hubs or from the Three Crowns.

You need to be referred by an agency.

Father Tom added: "Everything is changing day by day so if necessary, crisis vouchers may come in but we have to see how things are going.

"As far as we can we're trying to keep the number of people in the building down to a minimum, which is why today for instance, we've got three people bagging up ready for tomorrow at the Three Crowns.

"We're working towards the two-metre social distancing as far as we can and especially of course we need to keep ourselves safe because we need to be able to help the most vulnerable in Oldham.

"We are really short of UHT milk, tinned fish, tinned tomatoes, tinned veg, teabags, orange squash rather than juice, biscuits, cuppa soups and cereals.

"That's what we're in desperate need of at the moment.

"You can come and bring it to the Three Crowns or to one of the hubs.

"The general public has been outstanding, as have businesses as well."

The three hubs will be open from 11am-1.45pm on Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays.

The Three Crowns base is open 11am-1.45pm on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursdays, and 11am-3.45pm on Fridays.

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