Meet Joan - one of our Foodbank Superstars
North Lakes Foodbank just couldn’t function without the work of our fantastic team of centre managers and volunteers. To show you how amazing they are, we’re putting a spotlight on some marvellous individuals and thanking them for their hard work and dedication. Say hello to Joan, our Cockermouth Centre Manager!
A Workington local and lifelong Cumbrian, Joan has worked at the Cockermouth foodbank for 5 years, and has been in her current role as Centre Manager for 3 ½ years. Prior to that, her background was in office work, but after her parents passed away she began looking for something which was social and where she could help others. Starting as a foodbank volunteer, when the existing centre manager retired Joan stepped up into the role. This summer, she is working an extra day each week to help the Summer Foodpacks and Lunchpacks4Kids schemes run smoothly.
For Joan, the best thing about working at the foodbank is her team, who are like one big family. “They are a very very dedicated team here. Sometimes I tell them ‘I’m proud of you’ - if they have to step up to the mark they will do that. I can’t ask for more really… they’re just such wonderful people.”
The past few months have been a challenge for everyone, with lots of things having to change owing to the pandemic. But even with the additional cleaning measures, social distancing and having to wear mask shields, Joan and her team have taken it in their stride. “People have been kind, nobody’s complained… it’s been different definitely, but we’ve just managed... these things happen don’t they”.
In pre-Covid times, part of Joan’s role was to offer hot drinks and biscuits to welcome foodbank users into the centre. Although that’s not something she’s currently able to do, those who come into the centre still receive a warm, caring welcome from the team. Whilst the essential food parcels provide much-needed support for those who are struggling and find themselves in crisis, the foodbank also offers the chance for people going through a difficult time to talk through their worries. If they want a chat, the team will take them aside and lend a listening ear.
Joan says people can often be alone and so are grateful for the chance to talk things through, especially if they’re feeling particularly low. “We don’t just hand over the bag and say take care… we’re happy to help. We reassure people - we’ve had people in the past that’ve come in and they’re quite embarrassed… but I always deeply reassure them that we are here to help… we’re here to do that and we want to help.”
Thanks to Joan and the team at Cockermouth for all you do!