Our Coventry store's community champion Lynda Cole volunteers at the Coventry foodbank's distribution hub every week. She writes about what she does – and how the hub provides more than food...
I help the volunteers at Coventry foodbank's distribution hub every Tuesday. It's about three miles from the store and is supported by The Trussell Trust.
You get an idea of how important their work is when you hear that Coventry has 17 foodbanks – and it's the job of the volunteers at the hub to store and sort food and clothing so that it can then be sent out to these foodbanks.
When I first went there, the manager Hugh McNeill showed me round, explained what they did and introduced me to some of the volunteers.
You can see some of them in this video, where they explain why they're inspired to give their time:
Hugh thought my time would be best spent helping out with the clothing, so that's where I spend my time.
One of the volunteers gave me a list of clothing required by a family of four. The list had details of their ages, clothes sizes and shoe sizes.
They needed underwear, socks, shoes, T-shirts, tops and trousers. I saw the list and thought 'oh my God, this family must have so little clothing'. The mum was the same dress size and shoe size as me, so I put a lot of effort into giving her a lovely outfit. I picked out a nice top, matching trousers and sandals. Hopefully she will get them and think 'wow'.
I then picked out a T-shirt and trousers for the dad, and then clothes for the children. I then bagged it up so it can be sent to that family.
I've done that for lots of families now. The foodbank do get some clothes donated which aren't suitable to be given out – if they're torn or too dirty they have to go in the bin. Everything else is used – and gratefully received by us.
A lot of people probably don't realise that foodbanks offer this service, but it's a really important part of their work.
The volunteers are lovely people. They know exactly what they're doing – many of them have volunteered there for years. They tell me they get fulfilment from being involved. Some of them don't even live in Coventry – they travel for miles to help because they're so dedicated.
Hub manager Hugh McNeill writes: Lynda is a star; she's really embraced what we're doing and is so supportive and helpful. It's great to have Asda on board. We go to the store twice a week to collect food from the permanent collection point, and recently it's been full to the brim.
"We've clothed more than 2,500 people in the city in three years. People can face a range of issues, or be caught out by circumstances which force them to leave their homes with literally just the clothes on their back.
"We provide school clothes for families who can't afford school uniforms, and smart clothes for job interviews too. We also provide bedding.
"Last year we fed more than 20,000 people, and 40% of these were children. At least one of our 17 centres is always open, so people can access food and clothing at all times."
Asda Fight Hunger Create Change: Find out more about how you can get involved in volunteering with The Trussell Trust here.