Fasthosts a UK web and cloud hosting provider, based in the heart of Gloucester, believes it’s important to look at the environment around us and do what we can to contribute to the community where some of us live, and all of us work.
In 2016, after Shaun John, head of telesales, put a case forward to support the community, Fasthosts started working with Gloucester Foodbank.
In the UK, it’s estimated that 13 million people live below the poverty line, and changes to the benefit system could increase this number significantly this year. Gloucester Foodbank is one of the Trussell Trust’s 400-strong network of foodbanks set up to support those in crisis. Individuals can be referred to the foodbank by social services, the Jobcentre, Citizens Advice or the local MP’s office.
It’s important to understand how someone can end up in a crisis situation like this. In Shaun’s instance, he experienced a mini stroke four years ago which completely devastated his normality.
“I pretty much lost everything. It made me realise that anyone is potentially just three or four pay cheques away from a crisis. Nothing can describe what it feels like to try to recover while being unable to support yourself. I was referred to Gloucester Foodbank, who supplied me with a three-day emergency food parcel to keep me going. It fundamentally changed my life and helped me get back on the road to recovery.”
Gloucester Foodbank is so much more than a soup kitchen, although that is one of the services they run. In addition to the three-day food packages, they can also help with utilities, after striking a deal with energy companies that allows them to offer vouchers to those struggling to heat their homes.
“When you’re at rock bottom, it feels like there are a hundred steps to climb. These guys offer a first step, but that first step can quickly escalate to your first five, 10 or 15, and they help the process happen a lot faster. They’re absolutely amazing.”
As a way of returning the goodwill they extended to him in his time of need, Shaun has assisted at the foodbank at different times. As the support provided by Shaun and Fasthosts increased over the years, the foodbank has become noticeably busier.
“Year on year, the foodbank is busier. This year it was night and day. Last year we had a small group of volunteers from the business helping a handful of people with their parcels. This year we didn’t stop – one day we helped 99 Gloucester residents with their food parcels. I’m massively motivated to help Gloucester Foodbank, and it’s great that Fasthosts supports this scheme. Business needs to give something back to the local community.”
Towards the end of 2017, Shaun developed a number of initiatives to encourage his team members to donate time, money, or both to the scheme. Shaun set about charging staff £5 to have an afternoon off work to help at the foodbank. The response was phenomenal, with employees wanting to go but unable to due to so many people volunteering. One member of the team donated £80, topping the previous generous donation of £60. Around Christmas, crackers were sold at £1 each, with a day off as the grand prize. All this resulted in not only more than enough volunteers, but also a donation of £1,800.
“Not one person came back to the office disappointed, and all were incredibly humbled. As a result, we’ve already agreed to help more frequently throughout the year. It’s important to support our community, because you never know when you’ll be relying on it to support you.”
For more information about Gloucester Foodbank, or to donate money, food or support: https://gloucester.foodbank.org.uk/