Tourist officer moves into role helping foodbank

Uttlesford Foodbank volunteer receiving donations from Saffron Walden Town Council

Uttlesford Foodbank volunteer receiving donations from Saffron Walden Town Council - Credit: Judith Thompson

With the pandemic taking its toll on tourism across the district, finding a new role for our local tourist information officer during lockdown was crucial.

Judith Thompson, who normally deals with events, has been redeployed to offer support to Uttlesford Foodbank on a weekly basis. 

It comes after Saffron Town Council was successful in securing a grant of £1,950 from the county council's Lockdown Support Fund to spend on basic supplies for Uttlesford Foodbank. 

The town council has been working throughout the pandemic to fund emergency food and supplies for vulnerable individuals and families. 

Judith said: “When the pandemic started off, the foodbank and town council were in contact about how to best support the community in this critical time. 

“I am carrying out the town council’s instructions. We have been in contact weekly with the foodbank, finding out what they are short of and what support they need. 

“I deal with events mainly but there aren’t many at the moment and the uncertainty makes it difficult to plan ahead, so I get more time to get involved in community work.” 

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The foodbank has recruited additional volunteers to cope with pressures arising from the need to self-isolate and a surge in demand this month. 

Steph Maxwell, project coordinator at Uttlesford Foodbank, said: “It does seem a lot busier compared to December.” 

She said reasons include job losses, lower furlough pay, Universal Credit delays and financial pressures caused by Christmas.

She said some people send cheques through post or donate money through the website, but there are many ways to get involved. 

Donations banks in supermarkets have been “very well supported”, according to her: Tesco and Waitrose in Saffron Walden and Co-op in Stansted to name a few. 

One volunteer put together about 50 craft kits for children for this month’s lockdown.  

Steph said: “We have been very lucky, people in Uttlesford have been very generous with food support and financial donations.  

“I am working with a great team of people. It’s important to address food insecurity for vulnerable families. It’s a service that is needed and I wish it wasn’t, we are one of the richest nations in the world and we have to have a foodbank.”