Volunteer Focus - Stan Holden - Warehouse Volunteer and Team Leader

Published on August 12, 2021

This is part of a short series of posts to highlight our volunteers and how their roles have changed.

When Tricia, our Volunteer and Training Coordinator, asked me to write a few lines on the changes to the routine in the warehouse since our foodbanks restarted, my initial thought was “Well, we have more time for a proper coffee break now, and more time to catch up on each other’s gossip” but on reflection “She probably wants me to mention how these changes have impacted our WORK and not our PLAY!”

Over the past 16 months, the warehouse teams have needed to adapt to a number of changing circumstances; when COVID-19 first arrived it meant a reduction in the number of volunteers due to self-isolation rules; a limit on those able to attend a morning or afternoon session; social distancing rules meant restrictions for individuals and teams and them being allocated to different parts of the building. The closure of the buildings used as foodbanks meant we had to move away from preparing crates for the Foodbanks to preparing food boxes for our drivers to deliver directly to clients’ homes.

Every Start Up Stirling volunteer adapted to these changes and our service didn’t falter. Under the watchful eye of Gerry, the warehouse volunteers took on their changed circumstances and showed willingness to take on different roles in order to meet these different demands, and this soon became the new normal. Effective working relationships and high team spirit was evident across all the different warehouse teams.

… and now we have a change again.

As the COVID-19 restrictions have been eased, this spirit of helpfulness and support is still keenly evident. We have recently been able to re-introduce our foodbanks; we’re now back to two each week, with the remaining two days continuing with the home delivery service, primarily to our rural clients. This has meant our warehouse teams have needed to adapt and change once again in how we operate.

Tuesday and Wednesday are the foodbank days. This means that our Friday and Tuesday teams prepare the crates for the following day's foodbank (the warehouse is closed on Mondays). One key difference in how we prepare for the foodbank is that the number of product items in each single and family crate has been reduced. A number of ‘self-service’ crates have now been introduced, offering a range of products previously provided as part of the standard and family food box. This enables clients to select items according to their taste and preferences, providing a more meaningful and individual food offering to each client, thereby reducing the potential for waste.

With each Foodbank opening late morning, it means there is more time to properly prepare each load each morning and to ensure that all the ‘extras’ requested by Margaret-Anne, the crisis foodbank worker, for specific clients are ready to be transported by the Criminal Justice team. Work therefore continues at a busy, but less frenetic, pace.

I believe that all our warehouse volunteers understand that change is just a part of what we do and are always ready, willing and able to take on any task and offer support to one another when needed.

Now... back to that gossip!