VolkerRailStory’s seasonal goodwill echoes throughout the UK rail industry
The tradition of giving and goodwill is no more so apparent than at Christmas. In the UK and the railways in general, that tradition goes deeply into the close-knit community, often called the railway family. One example this year has been the support given to an organisation that, sadly, has been busier than ever this year.
VolkerRailStory staff have been as good an example as any of the generous spirit of the men and women who work at the heart of the railway industry in the UK. Of the many charitable and voluntary efforts expressed throughout the year, the help given to Sheffield Food Banks deserves flagging up as an exemplar for the industry.
Sheffield Food Banks
Listing all the charitable works of railway professionals would be a career in itself. Suffice to say, when it comes down to it, they’re a generous lot – especially with their time and effort. So, when Sheffield Food Banks needed help with the ever-growing demands on their vital service, there was a railway family ready to answer the call.
Food banks are a sad but entirely necessary part of the British landscape, offering the most basic of help to individuals and families struggling with the daily essentials. Although not one of the best known in the sector, Sheffield Food Banks is a loose collaboration of independent charitable organisations helping families around the north of England cities. It’s actually among the biggest food bank operations in the UK, with over a decade of experience. Currently, they support over 1,500 families a week. That figure is only growing.
Colleagues proved their willingness
Answering the call have been VolkerRailStory colleagues. The joint venture has a base nearby and the companies are working together on the Hope Valley Railway Upgrade project to provide more reliable and faster journeys between Sheffield and Manchester. The joint venture colleagues didn’t need to be asked twice. They’ve already proved their willingness elsewhere, in such direct action as a sleepout in the arches of London stations to highlight homelessness in the UK and raise funds for charities in the sector. Helping out at the Sheffield Food Banks was never in doubt.
“Since June, we’ve delivered 115 hours of volunteering with the Sheffield Food Banks, regularly helping with bag packing and sorting food crates at their Thursday morning volunteer sessions, as well as organising collections for food donations in our office”, said Charlotte Hattrell, the community engagement officer on the joint venture Hope Valley Railway Upgrade project. “It’s very important to our joint venture that, while we deliver railway upgrade work on the Hope Valley line, we give back to the local community. We’ve therefore enjoyed working with the foodbank to support their initiative in providing nutritionally balanced, emergency food to local people in Sheffield.”
A real godsend to the food banks
For most British people, the sight of a donation trolley in their local supermarket is something they’ve visited on a regular basis, every time they’ve done the weekly shop. However, as Chris Hardy, who manages the Sheffield Food Banks explained to RailFreight.com, that’s only a fraction of the supplies they need to support families in distress. Much of their base load food supply comes from commercial sources – bought wholesale. Container trucks, some of them bringing last-mile deliveries from larger freight train consignments, bring daily supplies to their city centre warehouse.
Those palletised supplies take a lot of manual handling. “Volunteers like the team from VolkerRail and their friends at Story are a real godsend to the Sheffield Food Banks”, said Chris Hardy. “It’s great that the company supports their efforts, but it still takes ordinary men and women to step up and put in their time and effort. I know there is a strong commitment in the railway industry to supporting each other, and that commitment extends into the community too. I think everyone knows how important food banks have become to those less fortunate in society, but the volume of produce passing through our warehouse would fill a freight train, so we welcome all the help we can get, and the team at Volker continue to do the people of Sheffield and Yorkshire proud.”
Sheffield Food Banks supports a network of ten sites around the city. Donations are always welcome, and more details can be found at sheffieldfoodbank.org.uk.
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