The Director of Colchester Food Bank received the prestigious ‘Chair’s Award’ in the Institute of Directors annual regional award ceremony held last week. Mike Beckett, who is also a councillor on Brightlingsea Town Council in Essex, was recognised for his work since 2017 at the busiest food bank in Essex, which aims to stop hunger in the Colchester area. He has also been made a Fellow of the Institute of Directors.
In his five years at the Food Bank, the number of volunteers has risen from 45 to 250, and the number of centres has increased from two to ten all around the Colchester area. The service continued helping those in need throughout the pandemic and provided meals for over 15,000 people in 2021.
Food banks on the rise
Food banks have increased in the UK, now numbering over 2,200. The Trussell Trust supplied nearly 100,000 emergency food parcels in the East of England between April and September 2021. The Food Foundation found that almost ten percent of East Anglian residents report food insecurity. Food banks are now a feature of life in the UK and many rely on them. During the pandemic, many new people became users due to losing their jobs or hours, or anxiety about shopping in large supermarkets. Usage is likely to continue to rise with the ‘cost of living squeeze’: high inflation and soaring fuel and energy prices.
The award is meaningful because it values Mike’s hard work, and recognises that food bank users and volunteers are important. He hopes the award helps food banks gain credibility in the business world, encouraging companies to trust them with their generosity. Mike is to be congratulated for his dedication in helping those in need, and his continuing belief that tackling poverty matters.
If you need help with using a food bank, the Citizen’s Advice Bureau is a good place to start.