Another Christmas has come, a moment to pause and catch our breath, following another extraordinarily busy year at the Eastleigh Basics Bank. In the weeks running up to Christmas I had the rare opportunity to role up my sleeves and help out both; in the shop and at our warehouse. I went in knowing our volunteers where really feeling the pressure this year but there’s nothing quite like experiencing it first hand!
What really encouraged me was seeing the dedication, determination and good spirits of the volunteers as they worked whether in the warehouse, collecting donations or processing and packing food parcels. Despite the significant challenges faced by our shop teams I found them still taking the time to really consider the needs of clients as they prepare their packages. Some clients for instance have medical considerations that need accomodating or who don’t have the facilities to cook what we might give them in a normal package. Requiring a bit of extra thought and care each time.
The war in Ukraine has had an impact as well, not just in terms of increased demand due to energy prices, but of language too. With many Ukrainians using our services having come to the UK speaking little or no English. Volunteers have had to provide an extra level of patients, time and understanding to overcome the language barriers and ensure we provide what they need.
It seems that with each year the demand for the Eastleigh Basics Bank rises but so too does the communities resolve to support a struggling neighbour. It has been so heartening to see the varied ways in which you are engaging with us and supporting what we do. From the lady that came in to donate a £10 note, through to the couple popping in to enquire what we need, before turning up a short while later with their car filled with everything we asked for. There are so many ways you support us, as businesses, schools, individuals, all working together to support a stranger in need. We are particularly grateful for the way you respond to our current needs list on our website. Ensuring we don’t run out of specific lines of produce. We really couldn’t do what we do without you.
As an organisation we acknowledge we aren't the solution to the clients circumstances but a temporary support when things get tough. There is an army of social and charity workers who must at times feel more like deliveroo drivers, ferrying back and forth to the EBB. Collecting food for clients that otherwise can’t get to us. But they do what we can’t, they work closely with those they support to find longer term solutions, understanding their circumstances and needs. It is really encouraging when we do see individuals return to us, sometimes months or years down the line to donate rather than collect. Wanting others to receive the same support they had during their difficult times.
Christmas for Christians is a time of celebrating when God put in motion his plan for a more permanent solution to humanities underlying issues. Sending a wonderful councillor, someone who can empathise with our difficulties. Someone who as almighty God can overcome our circumstances, who as an everlasting father offers us loving guidance, provides for our needs, disciplines and protects us and who inherited the authority to make peace with God on our behalf. In the Christmas story Jesus is revealed as Emmanuel, meaning God with us. That is to say he partners with us. He includes us as part of the solution to the challenges we face, as we walk through life with him.
The Eastleigh Basics Bank has never had an easy year but we have always known Gods provision for the challenges we face. Whether it be key volunteers, finance, food donations, premises or community partnerships, each one often coming about at the right moment to meet the need.
Thank you for being part of the solution and supporting us through 2022.
God Bless you in 2023
Eastleigh Basics Bank