'Team Chesterfield' mums and dads deliver 6,000 parcels to those in need
and live on Freeview channel 276
These words ring true for Kelly Hall, a volunteer at a Chesterfield foodbank which helps hungry and needy people in the town without any Government grants or support.
Established at the height of the coronavirus lockdown, the Chesterfield Community Food Hut was launched with a simple ethos: no one gets turned away.
It is a principle which has guided Kelly and the other mums and dads who make up ‘Team Chesterfield’ ever since the idea of a community foodbank for the town was first thought of by two seven-year-old girls during lockdown.
Now as the town gets used to the ‘new normal’ of limited freedom and different ways of living, they have found their simple parcels of food are as needed as ever.
Kelly said: “When we first started we were helping people of all ages who were self-isolating. Now it is people facing financial crises and more than ever it is the elderly who take up much of our time.
"Probably around 80 per cent of the people we deliver to are the elderly.”
Last week, Kelly found an 84-year-old woman by ‘pure accident’ who had not eaten in four days.
The elderly resident told Kelly she had recently lost her husband and her claim for a single person’s pension had hit a delay.
Kelly said: “I told her this should not be happening and she must have been lost in the system in some way.
"It was a pure accident that I started talking to her because she was in her garden when I delivered a parcel to her neighbour.
"This is why it is so important to check on your neighbours as it is easy for people to be missed and fall through cracks in the system.”
Kelly says when the woman told her story she ‘burst into tears’ and could then ‘not stop crying’.
"We filled her cupboards with non-perishable items and also toiletries,” Kelly said.
"She was so grateful and it was nice to see her smiling when we left.
"It always feels amazing to help someone in a situation like that.
“It is the best feeling in the world to help another human being.”
That is something the food hut has now been doing for more than four months.
Spurred into action by her daughter’s calls for a foodbank for the vulnerable back in April, Kelly quickly found a vacant building which was perfect for the community food hut – a base to gather donations of food prior to delivery to those in need.
The project quickly snowballed into one that coordinates donations, identifies people in need and arranges essentials to be distributed to them.
Vulnerable and isolated people, as well as children having chemotherapy and other cancer patients, are referred to the hut from mental health teams, schools, social services and elsewhere.
Key to the project’s success has been the support of Chesterfield firm Door 2 Door Taxis.
"They have been brilliant throughout,” Kelly said. “If I’m short of a car I simply have to ring them and there’s a taxi at the door. It makes such a huge difference.”
Kelly says the team are grateful for help from the community but prefer food to cash donations.
She said: ”It’s really nice when someone donates, for example, a bag of pasta, and we can deliver that to someone who needs it.
"We much prefer that to donations of money and feel it is nicer for the person making the donation too.”
Kelly has also thanked Chesterfield borough councillor Janice Marriott, who represents Dunston ward, for all her help with getting word out about the food hut.
Email the Chesterfield Community Food Hut at [email protected] or find them on Facebook if you can help.