Student volunteer focuses on food banks

PhD geography student Stephanie Denning's interest in faith-based social action led her to develop a focus on food banks and the crucial role they play for people facing food poverty.

Stephanie had been volunteering at North Bristol Food Bank since October 2014 and saw first-hand how it helps people who don't have enough to eat.

Her work led to a Bristol Hub Social Leadership Award recognising strong leadership abilities as well as social, environmental and sustainability skills development.

Food banks are an important way of ensuring that people in dire need have enough food. Sadly, because of the current economic climate, they are becoming increasingly common in the UK.

Three days of emergency, nutritionally balanced food, is packed up by volunteers and provided in return for a voucher indicating need. The vouchers are available from a range of distributors including GPs or the job centre. As well as distributing the emergency supplies, the volunteers also try to find out if other help is needed and signpost to other services.

"Food banks have an important social function, providing a space for clients to talk to volunteers or staff", said Stephanie. "They can also be used as an information point, providing details about other services for people who are really struggling. Talking to clients is an important part of the volunteers' role".

Stephanie also received a Bristol Green Capital Change Maker Gold Award.

She said: "Student volunteering is very important. It makes a huge difference to the student experience and helps deepen your understanding by reaching out into the wider community. It also generates a positive image of students in the city, doing something for local communities".

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