Stepping Up during Lock Down

Volunteer hoeing at Woodbank

For thirty weeks over the Spring and Summer  we refocused our activities at Woodbank Community Food Hub and set ourselves the target of doubling food production at the site. With the help of our team, committed volunteers and our local community we met this target and more. Read on to find out more from our Chris about Woodbank in numbers...

In March, based on government guidance, we suspended the majority of our community and wellbeing activities to protect our participants. We focused on food growing and contributing to the heroic efforts being undertaken to feed vulnerable people and those shielding, in partnership with Veg Box People and others.

Once we were confident we could have volunteers on site and safeguard their health and that of our neighbours, a call went out and we received a fantastic response.

We were acutely aware of the negative impact of the perception of large groups of people, from a distance, seemingly working closely together. The last thing we wanted for ourselves or our partners was to be accused of flouting the rules on social media. 

So we set out to communicate effectively with the hundreds of people walking past our growing site each day. We explained that our volunteers, classed as essential workers, were exempt from travel restrictions and that additional social distancing and hygiene measures were being strictly adhered to. 

As the site has a number of physical bottlenecks, we had to limit volunteer numbers to ensure social distancing. We built wash stations, tool cleaning areas and socially distanced rest areas. We only selected volunteers not living with key workers OR vulnerable individuals to join us and maintained a robust system of reporting potential symptoms. And, we explained, the delicious fruits of the work they could see happening, would be available to them locally, through our veg bags and weekly Woodbank stall. 

Even with our restrictions and volunteer limitations, many people responded positively to our plea, with significant results at the site. During these months: 

  • Woodbank benefited from over 300 volunteer days.
  • We prepared over 2.5 KM (1.5 miles) of beds, moving 800 wheelbarrows of compost.
  • Thanks to our volunteers we achieved 100 days worth of weeding.
  • The community garden produced over 220 kg of fresh veg for the weekly stall
  • And we did indeed achieve our target of doubling the amount of food grown on the site as a whole, including the FarmStart training site.
  • Additionally our questionnaire told us not only that all of our volunteers felt comfortable and safe on site but, that it was a very positive experience, which for many had played a significant role in their well-being during lockdown.

So, in this tough and very challenging time for so many (including many of us), we feel proud of our team – our staff, our volunteers and our local community – who have been able to play such a positive and practical role. As an organisation, we feel we have come out of lockdown stronger than before, our team of volunteers have forged new friendships and hopefully society will recover in a way that is more caring, equitable and greener.

Share on social