In the second half of 2020, Jonathan Watts, (Partner and Commercial Property expert at FSM Solicitors) worked with Malmesbury and District Foodbank to secure lease on a new warehouse from which to operate. The work was carried out pro bono (for free), offering this charitable cause specialist legal advice to ensure a suitable lease was agreed.
The Foodbank had been operating out of a small area at the back of the Malmesbury United Reformed Church and an adjacent garage. The cramped space became extremely difficult during the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic, as more donations flooded in and demand for support escalated.
Gill Smith, Project Manager of Malmesbury and District Foodbank said “We simply had nowhere to put anything and no space in which to work. We knew that a warehouse system would work because many other foodbanks operate in that way. It would relieve some of the pressure we were facing.”
After much planning, the new open plan 40ftx10ft warehouse eventually arrived on the back of a lorry at the location on the outskirts of Malmesbury. Many regular volunteers loaded up their cars to move crates of stock back and forth.
Alongside the planning and implementation of new processes which were needed to make the warehouse run smoothly, new processes were also needed at the original United Reformed Church premises to ensure it was covid-secure. A lot of training had to be done in a socially-distanced setting.
The fact that this was all being done at the end of the year made things more complicated due to the Foodbank’s Christmas hamper programme. Amazingly, the warehouse was set up, the processes at the Church put in place and more than 180 hampers/bags of extra Christmas supplies were packed and distributed – a fantastic achievement!
The foodbank continues to support the local community by offering contactless deliveries of food parcels – a process put in place in March 2020 that has only been possible due to offers of help from local people and the commitment of the regular volunteers.
Gill Smith said “I want to say – again! – how very grateful we are for the help offered by Jonathan Watts and FSM Solicitors. By providing your services pro bono we have retained more of our funds for the sole purpose of supporting local people who just don’t have the means to feed themselves and their families. That support is needed more than ever right now so thank you again for your very valuable support.”