"Hi I'm Sarah and I am a Key Worker for CCP.

I joined the CCP Pantry at the end of March 2020 and was really looking forward to working with the community to better understand and help tackle the causes of food poverty. Unfortunately, this was when the first lockdown was announced due to the increase in COVID-19 cases and the Pantry had to close its doors to the public.  

We quickly launched the Emergency FoodShare appeal and I, alongside a band of wonderful colleagues and volunteers, started a delivery service of food parcels as well as regular wellbeing checks for our Pantry members and the growing number of people in need across Gloucestershire.

It became evident that the need for food parcels had increased dramatically due to the initial panic buying in supermarketspeople having to shield to stay safe and many suffering from a sudden loss of income.

Requests continued to rise until we were providing 180 food parcels a week compared to 30 people who previously accessed the Pantry on a regular basis.  

My biggest worry throughout these 18 weeks, was the amount and variety of food we could provide. The Pantry is designed to supplement a household’s grocery shop but with people not being able to access food in other ways, I had to make a judgement on what was required to cover a full week, whilst being conscious to make sure everybody had something.

Luckily, we had brilliant support from our local community donating long-life food items and funding us to purchase fresh items each week. It was so humbling, and we really could not have supported so many people without everybody who donated.  

We were able to reopen the Pantry on 1st August 2020. The need for food parcels reduced as workplaces began to open and supermarkets had adapted to new customer requirements. Those who were still struggling joined as Pantry members and it was so good to put faces to the names that I had just seen on a list for four months. Having that face-to-face contact has really helped us to understand the specific needs of the individuals and families and signpost them to further support within CCP to help with worries around money, housing, anxiety, and loneliness. For many during the delivery process, a visit from our volunteers each week was the only interaction they were getting, and they could not wait to express how grateful they were for that.  

Having a sense of normality back has been a good feeling but we know that the struggles are far from over.  

I have felt so grateful to be able to continue going to work throughout the pandemic - to get out of the house and do something useful. My two girls, both 21 in March, have been based at home – Daisy trying to get more work in the film and television industry and Ellie, who was supposed to be in China for the year, has been doing her university course online, as well as earning money nannying. During this period, my husband was diagnosed with bowel cancer, had a major operation and chemotherapy but is doing well with only one more operation to go. However, our wire-haired dachshund, Marni, has had the best time with lots of walks and company galore! 

year has passed since I started my job running the Pantry and who would have guessed how those 12 months would have unfolded? It has been an emotional rollercoaster for all of us!"