Just before the Easter weekend, two conscientious groups of Warwick students joined forces with other members of the local community to volunteer for Coventry Foodbank, helping to pack 3,100 food parcels to ensure local vulnerable families don’t go hungry this Easter.
The volunteers included three of our innovative MBA students from Warwick Business School (WBS) at the University, who are collaborating with Coventry Foodbank to launch the ‘Community Impact Initiative’ to help those struggling in the local area during these difficult times. They've teamed up to help tackle the hardship caused by Covid-19 and to support others to volunteer in the community. Their usual day-to-day consists of helping food bank staff members sort through and package up donated goods.
Coventry Foodbank are part of a nationwide network, supported by The Trussell Trust, working to combat poverty and hunger across the UK. The foodbank is a collaborative project founded by local churches and community groups. They provide vulnerable people with three days’ worth of emergency food, plus other support to help them solve their crisis. Last year, they fed just under 28,000 people.
Oliver Lomer, part of the student-led Community Impact Initiative, said:
“We have only been in Coventry for a year, but that doesn’t mean we’re not part of the community here. As students we have an obligation to do our bit for the communities in which we are based. And with many suffering locally in the pandemic, we hoped to play our small part in helping out. Coventry has bounced back from difficulty many times in its long history – we would be pleased if we contributed in some small way to its latest recovery.
Apart from it being great fun, the food bank were very pleased with the speed and quality of our work!”
On 29 March, they recruited around 30 other MBA students to volunteer and take part in the ‘Pack to School Challenge’. They packed around 3,000 breakfast parcels for disadvantaged children identified by Coventry City Council. An assembly line was set up with each volunteer responsible for a particular station and task. Some students were stationed to package particular food types and others were ‘runners’, responsible for resupplying each station.
Noam Schwartz, another MBA student volunteer, said:
“I first thought about this idea over Christmas, when the UK government announced the third lockdown. Learning about the difficulties caused by the pandemic to the most vulnerable parts of the community, I felt like in times like these, we must try and do our best to offer assistance and help. The idea was to offer direct and immediate help, as much as we can, as fast as we can. Therefore, I contacted the [Coventry] Foodbank and offered to build a collaboration.”
Jeff Slater, another Warwick student volunteer, said:
“I have been based away from Coventry due to travel restrictions so was unable to attend the centre itself; my support was in organising and collaborating and communicating virtually. This was an opportunity to do some good during Covid-19. I wouldn’t want to look back on this time and think that I spent it locked up at home without doing anything for anyone other than myself.
In the past I briefly supported the North Lakes Foodbank in Cumbria after there was severe flooding some years ago. I have also volunteered with a night shelter and as a youth worker with my local church. Volunteering at Coventry Foodbank is a great opportunity to strengthen ties between Warwick Business School, the University of Warwick and the local community.”
Warwick Volunteers, the University-coordinated student volunteer team, also stepped up to help Coventry Foodbank. They’ve played an ongoing role locally since the first lockdown.
Charlotte Robb, one of our Warwick Volunteers, told us about her experience at the pre-Easter packing session:
“On the day, we packed bags with food essentials and toys for children who are normally entitled to free school meals to have over the Easter holidays. This was my first-time volunteering, and I will definitely do it again as it was so nice to meet and make friends with other like-minded people whilst also helping such a good cause. I wanted to help out around Coventry as it is where I live, and I think it's important to help the people in your local community.”
Ellie Smith, another Warwick Volunteer said:
“When I heard about the food bank volunteering, I immediately felt compelled to participate, even though I had never done anything like this before. I have always felt strongly that every child should benefit from the basic human right of having enough food to eat, and so I felt this would be a great opportunity to put my beliefs into practice.
I really enjoyed volunteering in Coventry alongside other Warwick students because it made me feel more connected to the community that I am part of whilst at university – this has been more difficult in recent times! I thoroughly enjoyed engaging my brain for something other than academic work, and I am very grateful to Coventry Foodbank and Warwick Volunteers for creating such a worthwhile, fun experience.”
You can find information on how to support Coventry Foodbank through donations and volunteering on their website.