Ask any volunteer at the Bounds Green Food Bank about Andy Dawson and you’ll hear the same things: ‘He works so hard’; ‘He’s always willing to step up’; ‘He’s so committed’.
Now Andy’s superb efforts have achieved wider recognition with an award and certificate from Haringey Council to mark his volunteering contribution. And it’s typical of him that when the award was acclaimed on the volunteers’ WhatsApp group, Andy replied: ‘Thanks to you all. I just do what I can to help at our wonderful food bank. It could have been any one of you.’
Andy nearly didn’t join the Food Bank. After deciding to retire from paid work in the IT sector last Autumn, he was looking to support local organisations or charities who could benefit from his new free time. He’d approached a couple of groups without success when in December he passed a poster for the BGFB on Bounds Green Road.
‘At that time, I didn't even know the food bank existed. I started volunteering with the food service, then I joined the ad hoc drivers and it snowballed from there.’ He is also a member of the Volunteers Team which supports all BGFB volunteers, helps manage the food service rota and is involved in the recruitment process.
‘The Food Bank is very friendly,’ he adds. ‘Everyone is trying to do their best to help. As long as people have the right spirit, it's a nice place for volunteers and guests.’
Andy is very modest about the Haringey accolade: ‘It is flattering to get that recognition but we all do the best we can for the people who need the food bank. I’ve got the time now to help and can do it. Others who are working do what they can with the time they can spare. Just happy to help - that's the right philosophy. Families should not have to go hungry and we do everything we can.’
He believes the Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted how close some families are to the edge and urges anyone thinking of volunteering to do so. ‘If you have any interest in reducing food poverty and doing so within a nice friendly working environment, come along and try it. You will be helping our guests and creating a nice community feel.’
Not all Andy’s energies go into the volunteering. He’s a dedicated runner and plans to take part in the London Marathon to raise money for the North London Hospice have had to be put back until next year. He has also signed up to take part in a trek along the Great Wall of China in 2022 to support the work of the Hospice, travelling from London to Beijing by train. He’s also keen on Blues music and is a regular at the local club in Southgate – restrictions permitting.
What of the future? Andy is pleased to see the number of guests who also volunteer, citing this is an example of the food bank’s growing inclusivity. He fears demand for the Food Bank may grow as furlough schemes end and people lose their jobs.
‘In an ideal world, what we do wouldn’t be necessary. It’s a shame but the need for food banks is not going to go away in the short term.’
Thank you Andy for everything you do for Bounds Green Food Bank. If you're interested in volunteering with us please complete the volunteer registration form on our website here.