Hello to everyone, I hope you are all well and keeping safe. My Name is Alan Jones and I would like to introduce myself as the new Project Manager of Middlesbrough Foodbank. I have lived in Middlesbrough my whole life, spending my early years in Linthorpe where my parents still live. I was married at Avenue Methodist church just over 20 years ago and have two children, both boys, Alex will soon be 15 and Owen is 18 in July. I was self-employed for a number of years before moving into general practice and I was Deputy Practice Manager of a local doctors surgery before being given the opportunity to join the team at Foodbank.
I am now into my fifth week of working at Middlesbrough Foodbank and thinking back to my first few days I think I was most surprised by how generous people have been over the past few months and this was shown by the amount of donations waiting to be sorted and put away by the amazing volunteers at the Depot. I am both pleased and sad to say that the majority of the food has now been put away to replace the huge amount of food that has been delivered to our Foodbanks in the last few weeks.
Over my first few weeks I was able to visit each of our Foodbanks and meet the teams of volunteers that are working tirelessly to keep the centres running. Each of the centres has had to adapt due to current restrictions but they are all still offering a friendly greeting and kind word to their clients. I was made to feel welcome at each of the centres and hopefully made myself useful on the occasions that I was able to stay and help. I really enjoyed meeting everyone and hearing their stories, although on more than one occasion I was told that I had big boots to fill and one volunteer even wished me good luck as Soroush would be such a hard act to follow!
I have also been privileged to have been able to spend some time with Chris, Naomi and the team at the Salvation Army centre where we spent the morning giving soup and food to those in need. I was assured it was a quiet session but we still helped dozens of people in the short time we were there. All the people were extremely grateful and one chap in particular stayed to chat for a while, he was homeless and explained how he would sleep near the university’s heat vents to keep warm. Most recently I visited the Genesis project, in Grove Hill, and helped Kath Dean, Shaun and the team give out food parcels to local residents. The session started at 11am and sadly people started to que from around 10am. Kath explained that many of her volunteers were people the project had helped in the past, they all work extremely hard and the session had a real community feel.
In my short time working at Foodbank I have witnessed the massive need in Middlesbrough but I have also seen the great generosity and spirit that lives in the people of town. This is shown not just in the donations we receive at Foodbank but through the people who run this and the many other projects that offer help in the town.
I look forward to working with you all in the future and am sure we will be able to make a real difference in the months and years ahead.