Sandra’s life has completely turned around since the first day she walked into the Tower Hamlets Foodbank.
She had been unemployed for nearly 16 years and was living in a hostel when she was referred to the foodbank for emergency food support.
“I got more than I ever could’ve anticipated or imagined. They gave me hope straight away. Although I got food, which I was happy for, more than that I got someone who listened to me and was non-judgmental to help me,” Sandra says. The born-and-bred Tower Hamlets resident ran into difficulties when she was fighting drug addiction.
“I had a lot of debt that had accumulated over the years – council tax, housing – all that kind of stuff and not paying my rent. By the time that I left the foodbank that first day, I remember feeling that it was possible for me to get out of this rut, that it was possible for me to move forward.”
After being connected with local agencies who helped her deal with her debts and get a flat of her own, she started volunteering at Tower Hamlets Foodbank.
“Initially I thought I was just going to be helping other people but I got so much out of it. It was a place where I could learn and grow in a professional but loving environment. Having those people who believed in me made a massive difference and helped me to be able to move forward,” Sandra says
“I had hoped in my heart that one day I’d be in a permanent job, that I’d pay my own bills and just feel like a solid member of society. I hoped but I just didn’t know how.”
“I’m really excited about where work’s going and to have the opportunity to give back to the community.”
Former First Love Foundation client and volunteer
“It’s a completely different life to where I once was,” she says… “If you’re in a bad place, you need that trust and support, especially if you’re stuck in a rut. I was able to come out of the dark hole that I was in and I’m so proud to be out of it.” Today, she works as a shift leader for a large national hotel chain, a job that she’s been in for 19 months.
She says she uses the skills she learned as a volunteer every day at work.
She even has plans for a community project of her own, that she’s dubbed the Family Day project, which will be a day where parents and their children can learn how to communicate with each other better. She’s also working with her employers to help young people get into work.
“I’m really excited about where work’s going and to have the opportunity to give back to the community. It’s a completely different life to where I once was,” she says.
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How you can help
Want to help the local community? There are lots of different ways to get involved.
We know that not everyone has the time to volunteer with us or organize a food drive. You can help us support the people in need by donating money today.
We have a very small team, so any time you can give will make a difference – from helping at our office, assisting at our foodbank, or sorting food at our warehouse. We couldn’t do it without you.
We’re always desperate for donations of non-perishable foods, canned goods and toiletries. From a few cans to an office food collection, every donation goes a long way to make a difference.