Using the INTO Volunteer Days

Members of INTO’s Strategic Finance Team used one of their INTO Volunteer Days to donate 44hrs of mind and muscle to the local Brighton community. Simon Hobden reflects on a moving and memorable experience.  

Finance Team invests time and muscle in Brighton Food Bank

17 Jan 2019

“We [Peter Thompson, Jim Downey, Simon Hobden, Adam Donoghue, Garry Porter and Jon Spencer-Smith] assembled at Brighton Food Bank at 9.15am one Friday in mid-December for a day’s volunteering.

Food Bank Team Leader Mike began by explaining to us with passion how his team supports families and individuals through tough times. He then asked us to bring with us a willingness to work, a respect for the clients and volunteers, and a commitment to making a difference.

The six of us were split into pairs, each spending two hours at the Asda supermarket in Hollingbury, collecting items for the food bank, alongside a volunteer/staff member. Each pair collected in excess of 130kgs of items during their Asda stints.

Meanwhile, back at the food bank, the rest of the team helped by sorting food for the shop; stocking shelves; checking use-by-dates; and storing everything collected at Asda, plus any other donations received during the day.

It being December, Mike’s team was also busy making up Christmas parcels containing festive items and presents. These parcels were customised according to each individual family’s needs, showing the team’s warm-hearted approach. We lent a hand by separating out appropriate items, such as mince pies, from the general store room, and ferrying nearly 100 of the completed bags upstairs, ready for handing out the following week. 

Around 507kg of donations were collected, weighed and recorded and brought in (and up the stairs) during our day of volunteering – or about two per cent of total annual donations and enough to feed a person for 7½ months. In addition, £370 was donated on our watch. True Christmas good-will in action.

Each year, Brighton & Hove City Mission Food Bank helps nearly 700 people (both families and individuals) who are going through a transitional or challenging point in their lives. They assist primarily through free food, but also by providing emotional, physical, and spiritual support, plus information on where to find expert advice. 

We were overwhelmed by the generosity of people and were gratified when people exited the store with generous donations because of our work at the supermarket. We were also impressed by the strong relationships that the Food Bank had built with other organisations (eg supermarkets, other charities and agencies) to bring the maximum amount of help to those most in need.

In all, the experience taught me that the people who make this happen are a reminder of what is good in society, yet also a reminder of what’s broken.”

To donate to Brighton Food Bank or to volunteer, please email foodbank@bhcm.org.uk, call 01273 695330 or visit their practical support page. And, if you are an INTO employee, speak to your HR department or click here for information on how to use your two annual volunteering days.