Power worker delivers food parcels for families in need across Hastings
A trainee engineer at UK Power Networks is helping a local action group deliver free food parcels to families in need, inspired by footballer Marcus Rashford.
Joseph Kelly volunteers for Hastings Food Action, which helps people struggling to feed their families. Four women founded the group to deliver food parcels and toiletries to vulnerable children and families in need in Hastings and St Leonards. It started during half term and was extended to term time, due to demand, run entirely by volunteers, relying solely on donations.
The group delivers free recipe kits enabling families to join simple online cooking tutorials led by chefs from local restaurants, cooking popular family meals. The videos are published on Facebook and Instagram, then Joseph and his sisters, Martina and Ashleen, deliver all the ingredients to around a dozen homes across the town.
Joseph has just volunteered as part of Donate a Day, UK Power Networks’ scheme which gives the company’s 6,000 employees two days paid leave each year to volunteer. He went shopping for ingredients, collected donations from local food banks, bagged recipe kits and delivered food parcels.
Joseph is in the final year of studies to become a fully qualified engineer at UK Power Networks, helping maintain reliable electricity supplies for local homes and businesses. Although it is proving to be a busy time, he was inspired to volunteer by Marcus Rashford’s school meals campaign.
Joseph said: “Marcus Rashford worked outside his day job to help others and if he can do it, so can I, so I volunteer during my weekends. It’s also brilliant being able to volunteer during company time and an amazing contribution that UK Power Networks makes to our communities by enabling all their staff to spend two days each year volunteering. I wish more companies did it.
“Hastings Food Action’s ‘cook along’ feeds the whole family and is about cooking nutritious meals on a budget. Families ask for a donation and we deliver the ingredients, which are covered by donations. It’s good for the families and local restaurants, which are feeling it during the pandemic. Their head chef films a step-by-step recipe to get the whole family involved.
“I have lived in Hastings all my life and have noticed how more families are using food banks and homelessness has increased. I’m seeing first-hand the effect on families who are reaching out to charities to feed their kids and it has driven me to get involved.
“When we deliver the ingredients the kids know we have an exciting food package for them to prepare with their family. It’s massively rewarding and overwhelming to see the positive impact we can make just by dropping off a simple bag of food. It shows them there are people who care about them, especially during the pandemic when people feel so isolated. We want them to know there are people thinking of them and willing to help them.
“I have lived in Hastings for 27 years and didn’t realise the levels of poverty there were until I started volunteering. There are so many areas where it is hidden in plain sight.”
Hastings Voluntary Action donates all the fresh fruit and vegetables for Hastings Food Action and local restaurants Tommy’s Pizzeria, The Albion, Southside Wrappers and Home Ground Kitchen have already supported the group’s cook-along.