Harrogate food charities’ volunteers staying safe thanks to four-figure Banks Group grant

September 21, 2020 | Castle Hill West News

Pictured above: (from left) Suzanne Bowyer, chief executive of Ripon House), Harrogate Foodbank project manager Linda Macrow, Lewis Stokes of The Banks Group and parish administrator Carol Raw

Teams of volunteers who are delivering hundreds of meals to some of Harrogate’s most vulnerable residents are staying protected thanks to the support of family-owned property development firm The Banks Group.

The Harrogate & Knaresborough Foodbank, Ripon Foodbank, St Peter’s Church in Harrogate and Resurrected Bites are all working to address the issues being faced by older and vulnerable people around the town as a result of the pandemic.

A £1,294 grant has been provided from the Banks Group’s Banks Community Fund to pay for the masks and gloves that the volunteers are using during their deliveries to minimise the chance of any virus transmission.

The charities’ volunteers are also using the visits to check on the well-being of the people they’re helping and to try to identify any additional needs they might have.

Public service partners are helping the charities to coordinate their local relief efforts, with the Banks Community Fund grant covering the charities’ PPE costs for the next three months.

Resurrected Bites usually operates ‘pay as you feel’ cafés based at St Mark’s Church on Leeds Road in Harrogate, Gracious St Methodist Church in Knaresborough and West Park United Reform Church in Harrogate.

They provide meals using ‘resurrected’ food that would otherwise have ended up in landfill even though it is still safe to eat and in good condition.

Having had to close the cafes’ doors in March due to the pandemic lockdown, its 45-strong team of volunteers has instead been delivering food packages to around 120 households across the area every week and has so far delivered around 4,500 three-day food packages.

Michelle Hayes, one of the directors at Resurrected Bites, says: “We knew that, even though the cafés were going to have to close, the local need that we meet through it wasn’t going to go away and, if anything, was only likely to increase.

“Launching this delivery service means that those in need aren’t being left to fend for themselves and demand is continuing to grow.

“Many of our clients are formally referred to us, but people can also refer themselves, and as well as covering Harrogate, our volunteers are also active in locations including Knaresborough, Boroughbridge, Pateley Bridge and Ripon.

“We’re expecting to be continuing with the delivery service until at least the end of the year, and possibly into 2021, and it’s essential for our volunteers to have access to PPE like this to minimise the risk of anyone spreading the virus.”

The Harrogate charities are the latest groups to benefit from emergency financial support from the Banks Group which has been applying community funding from its wind farms and surface mines across the north of England and Scotland to assist with similar emergency projects.

Since the beginning of April, grants worth a total of over £65,000 have been approved and awarded by the family-owned firm to 39 community projects which are tackling the problems being caused in their respective areas by the pandemic, with more set to follow.

Lewis Stokes, community relations manager at the Banks Group, adds: “Our funds are designed to bring direct, long-term benefits to local communities, and in this unprecedented time of need, we felt it only right to step up and support them where it’s most needed.

“These charities are doing an amazing job in providing hundreds of people in very difficult situations with the support they need to get through them and the commitment of the volunteers behind each one is truly inspiring.”

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