THE 22nd March was an important day for the Foodbank DoorSteppers as they celebrated their first anniversary and Queens Park Rangers were on hand to help raise awareness of this vital service.
Joined by First team manager Mark Warburton and midfielder Dominic Ball, to help celebrate our EFL Day of Action QPR took to the streets of West London and helped collect vital food donations which throughout the year have made a huge difference to those in need. As well as lending a hand, the club were keen to also make their own personal donation, as we continue to support our local area.
2020 and the start of the Coronavirus pandemic saw a sudden surge in demand of local foodbanks, with our local one, Hammersmith and Fulham Foodbank, in particular seeing demand increase six-fold, with food now needed for more than 60,000 meals a week.
Consequently, this saw the launch of the Foodbank DoorSteppers who travel around West London in search of emergency food parcels.
With residents restricted to the walls of their own homes, unemployment has begun to reach new heights, thus seeing the demand for food donations increase.
This first anniversary was more of a chance to raise awareness of the Foodbank DoorSteppers compared to a celebration, with the presence of Warburton, Ball, local Labour MP Andy Slaughter and the Mayor of Hammersmith & Fulham, PJ Murphy certainly helping with that.
R’s gaffer Warburton was then on hand to help collect some of these donations, with the surrounding roads of the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium coming out in force to help make a difference.
The Rangers boss told www.qpr.co.uk: “The work they have been doing is so impressive.
“They all have full-time jobs but continue to give up their spare time to collect these donations and make a difference to the west London community. It is very humbling to see the work they do.
“There will be many long-term implications of COVID-19, mentally it has been very tough for many people, however times like this show how important the local community is and the work from the Foodbank shows exactly that.”
He added: “We are very privileged to be in the position we are in, but QPR in the Community Trust continue to make a difference in the local area and it is something that myself and players like Dom Ball are proud to be a part of.”
Maria O’Flynn from the Foodbank DoorSteppers explained to www.qpr.co.uk exactly what they do and the difference these types of events can make: “We are a voluntary organisation which supports Hammersmith and Fulham Foodbank. We aim to help keep the supply of donations to the Foodbank, by arranging door to door collections.
“When COVID hit we realised that the need for donations went up by about six times and people’s ability to donate dropped.
“If the Foodbank don’t receive donations, they have to buy it because people need the food, so we have to help the local community to feed their families, so the more that we can collect through these donations, the more there is to go around.”
She added: “We are all hopeful and optimistic to put this period behind us, but it’s essential that we remember that people will continue to struggle.
“The community aspect is very important; we are a local organisation who support our neighbours and that good spirit is something that we want to retain.
“To be joined by Mark Warburton has perhaps helped us reach a part of the community that may not have heard of us before, but would’ve certainly heard of QPR, so to have the club’s support on days like today is great and will make a big difference.”
They were also joined by Ball, who had already taken it upon himself to make two considerable donations to the Hammersmith and Fulham Foodbank in the last 12 months, and he knows more than anyone the impact these types of events can have.
He told www.qpr.co.uk: “I think it’s brilliant. For people at the Foodbank to give up their own time and efforts to make a difference to the local community is amazing.
“I think in the first lockdown I made a couple of donations and it just made you realise the sheer number of donations they need now.
“They are donating to ten more families a week and it shows you that yes its tough at the moment, but it’s only going to continue and the more of these types of things the better because it’s not going to be magically solved.”
Speaking about the DoorSteppers themselves, Ball added: “In these times you could feel sorry for yourself, but these volunteers don’t, they have gone out every day and made a difference to the local community.
“I take my hat off to them and from everyone here at QPR, thank you.”
Times like this show how important the local community is and the work from the Foodbank shows exactly that.