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Yorkshire Housing staff volunteer at foodbank

Staff from across Yorkshire Housing helped bring festive cheer to needy families by volunteering at a foodbank in the run up to Christmas.

Groups spent four Tuesday afternoons last month working in a warehouse sorting donations made to the Bradford Central Foodbank.

Workers from teams at the Leeds-based housing association including income, neighbourhoods, HR and community investment joined in.

The charity drive was organised by neighbourhood officer Natalie Rogers to help with the large number of donations that arrived as Christmas approached.

Natalie works in Yorkshire Housing’s Bradford team, who have run several fundraisers for the foodbank.

She said: “Yorkshire Housing does have a social purpose to the business and I think there’s a lot of heart here.

“YH staff always go above and beyond to help others in their day-to-day jobs.

“So it’s been great to take this to another organisation, where we can do our bit to help families and individuals in crisis in the communities we serve.”

There was camaraderie among teams as they sorted food into types and date order, lugged heavy boxes and organised shelves.

The warehouse was small, but stacked from floor to nearly the ceiling with donated goods.

There was just enough room for a team of four Yorkshire Housing volunteers to work and tasks including unpacking donations from boxes.

Natalie said: “It’s been great to work with people that you wouldn’t necessarily work with on a day-to-day basis.

“We’ve all mucked in and the teamwork has gone really well – we’ve helped each other and passed things around to each other.”

Natalie added the impetus came from meeting a customer earlier this year who needed the foodbank.

She said: “The customer mentioned that over the last Christmas period her benefits had stopped.

“She was left without any money and had had to access the foodbank to feed her two daughters Christmas dinner and over the Christmas period.

“This brought the situation more into real life f​o​r me, that there are people that I’m working with and for who are struggling and need to use this type of vital service.

“It got me thinking that it would be a good idea to help out and give something back to the local community, especially at this time of year.”

Bradford Central Foodbank manager Josie Barlow said they supported 577 people in November alone.

And a total of 5,500 people received help over 2019, including hundreds of families, from the foodbank, which is based at the Light Centre near Forster Square.

Each parcel, containing healthy staples such as pasta, rice, cereal, tinned vegetables and meat, is enough for nine meals per person over three days.

Josie said: “We get a lot of donations around this time of year and so we put on extra sorting days to get through them.

“Yorkshire Housing have come in to help out on that extra day and what they’ve done is really helpful.

“We can’t thank them enough because the families we support have got nowhere else to turn.”