Cambridge Foodbank profiles St Laurence’s volunteer

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Cambridge Foodbank profiles St Laurence’s volunteer

James Dore, who is treasurer at St Laurence’s in Cambridge, featured recently on the website of Cambridge Foodbank where he volunteers.

James has been treasurer at St Laurence since 2018. “Coming from a background as an accountant,” he said, “I’ve been keen to try and improve systems and procedures, particularly around internal control and compliance. This extends beyond the accounts themselves to all aspects of financial management. Separating duties with my co-treasurer and seeking the views of the Finance Committee have been fundamental to this.

“The role has been very fulfilling and enjoyable, allowing me to keep my hand in with managing an organisation’s finances – besides getting to know well many more of my fellow parishioners!”

James has now completed a decade of volunteering for the Foodbank, first joining in June 2012. He had a few months off after retiring from work and knew that he wanted to get involved in some volunteering. “Initially, I volunteered at my local rugby club to help look after the finances,” he said, “but I wanted to also do something that was a bit more practical and hands on. I went along to a Cambridge charity recruitment evening at OLEM, and Cambridge City Foodbank was one of the charities present. It seemed like a really great organisation for me to join, and importantly, I wouldn’t be doing any accounting!”

Colleagues at the Foodbank used to joke that his title was assistant, temporary, acting, deputy warehouse manager, which tells you he was involved in a few different areas across the charity. A lot of his time is spent inside the warehouse, processing and organising the food supplies. However, he also purchases stock as required, and is our main supermarket liaison. This means he keeps in contact with all the supermarkets where the Foodbank has collection bins and tries to make sure that those collections are running smoothly.

When I started,” he said, “we were quite a small organisation with only three distribution centres and around 30 volunteers. We had four or five units located in different areas of a self-storage building, and my job when I first started was to move crates of food from one unit to the other. I had a flatbed trolly that I tried to load up with as many crates as it could take and I was even jokingly known as ‘the muscle’ in the warehouse.”

Since then, the Foodbank has grown enormously. It has not just expanded in terms of the volumes of food it provides for those in need, but also in the range of services that it offers those that it supports. “During my 10 years volunteering,” said James, “Cambridge City Foodbank has undergone a professionalisation in many aspects. For example, when I first joined, we were a solely volunteer run organisation and had no paid staff. It’s obviously very different now, but the bedrock is still all of the amazing people who have stepped forward and committed their time and energy to the cause.

If you turn on the TV, you’ll see lots of news that makes you despair somewhat, but if you come along to volunteer at Cambridge City Foodbank, you’ll find that the volunteers’ energy and enthusiasm restores your faith in humanity to a great degree. The volunteers at the Foodbank are so committed to helping others, and there is so much goodwill and commitment that you can’t help getting a real lift.”

Pictured above is James Dore at Cambridge Foodbank.