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Christine and Mike Dillon foodbank volunteers Gillingham
Gilllingham foodbank volunteers Christine and Mike Dillon.

A husband and wife duo from Gillingham – who have volunteered for their local food bank throughout the pandemic – are being recognised for their incredible support, by anti-food poverty charity the Trussell Trust.

Christine and Mike Dillon have been helping to sort and manage food donations at Gillingham Foodbank, ever since the country first went into lockdown in March 2020.

They introduced a new system of stock rotation to the food bank, and even turned their home garage into an area to store extra donations from supermarkets when the pandemic first began. As a result, the food bank, based on Station Road, was able to get food to the people who needed it at a particularly busy and challenging time. 

This week (Tuesday 1 June – Monday 7 June) is Volunteers’ Week and the pair are being celebrated by the Trussell Trust for their outstanding contribution to the cause over the past twelve months.

Christine, who is a retired early years teacher, said: ‘I really love volunteering as I feel it’s important to do something to help others. There are many people in Gillingham who are struggling to feed themselves, and as soon as the pandemic started I knew that I wanted to continue to play my part in helping the wider community. 

‘Volunteering for the food bank is great way to give back and make a real difference to people’s lives. But it’s very much a team effort and we are lucky to be part of a much bigger team of dedicated and hardworking volunteers here in Gillingham.’

The work of the food bank in Gillingham has never been more vital, says the trust, as more people than ever are needing to use a food bank to survive, following an increased demand during the pandemic.  

The Gillingham foodbank, which is part of the Trussell Trust network, distributed 2,009 emergency food parcels to people facing crisis in the local area between April 2020 and March 2021. This is an increase on the previous year when 1,744 parcels were provided.

The Trussell Trust’s head of volunteer management Miranda Beebe said: ‘We are incredibly grateful to the amazing army of volunteers at Gillingham who have kept the food bank running in very challenging circumstances.  

‘It’s thanks to people like Christine and Mike that food banks across the network have been able to provide the lifeline of emergency food and additional support to thousands of people in crisis over the last year. Now, more than ever, we need the support of our volunteers to help ensure that our food banks can continue to provide this help to people who need it.

‘But ultimately, no one should need to use a food bank to get by. Everyone should be able to afford the basics in life. That’s why we’re working nationally to campaign for a hunger free future.’

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