2020 Annual Report

4 min read

Supporting The Trussell Trust on the frontline during COVID-19

Story synopsis

  • When lockdown hit the UK spring 2020, food bank organisation The Trussell Trust saw an 81% increase in requests for its food parcels.
  • At this challenging time, three members of the Deloitte UK team - Alan, Sam and Hannah - stepped in to help.
  • Joining The Trust on secondment, they supported its teams’ work to provide food to people in need while complying with new social distancing requirements.

One of the UK’s biggest food bank organisations, The Trussell Trust supports a network of 1,200 food banks across the country that provide emergency food parcels and support to families who can’t afford essentials.

In March 2020, as millions felt the impact of COVID-19 on their incomes, demand for food banks’ services increased - and the need to comply with social distancing requirements added extra complications for those providing food to people in need.

Making an impact in society

Late one Sunday evening, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic we emailed The Trussell Trust to ask, “How can we help?”

We’d seen the headlines about the explosion in demand for food bank services and wanted to offer our support.

Our email arrived just as the enormity of the challenge facing The Trussell Trust was beginning to hit - and we were the first corporate to reach out.

To keep operating through lockdown, it was vital for The Trussell Trust to adapt its delivery model in a short space of time. Keen to help, we provided a range of support including secondees, volunteers and a donation to support its work.

Providing leadership support during COVID-19

The Trust needed help to support the development of leadership skills that would be needed to lead strategic change. So Deloitte consultant Alan Velecky offered his expertise in leadership, development and coaching on a pro bono basis.

As the main links between The Trussell Trust and its food banks, area managers played a crucial role in implementing the changes needed to respond effectively to COVID-19, working alongside food banks’ project managers.

“To help, I ran coaching sessions with each of the 22 area managers” explained Alan, “giving each person the space to reflect on how they had coped so far, and think about changes they’d like to make in the future.”

Following this, Alan ran a group virtual workshop with all of the area managers and asked for their views on specific aspects of the food bank operation.

This enabled him to build a picture of the operation overall - how it worked, the different roles played by area managers and the challenges they face – and make recommendations about possible improvements.

“One of my recommendations was to reset the relationship between area managers and project managers” said Alan.

“Rather than the area managers being someone the project managers call when there is a problem, they become a trusted advisor, coaching to develop their skills.”

Now, The Trussell Trust is using Alan’s findings and recommendations to redefine the area manager role - supporting the food banks to become more effective in addressing the underlying issues that drive people to need their help.

Lending a hand

Deloitte managers Hannah Ledwold and Sam Morley supported the Brent food bank in north London for three months, to help it manage increased demand and implement a new operational model, based on delivery.

Food banks rely heavily on volunteers, many of whom are from older generations. As lockdown began and many older people were advised to shield, large numbers of The Trussell Trust’s regular volunteer force were unable to support its work as normal.

“Supporting Claudia, one of the bank’s project managers, I got involved in all of the day-to-day activities of the food bank” said Sam.

As with other food banks in the network, social-distancing rules meant that the bank could no longer serve its clients indoors - so they had to move to an outdoor service twice a week and take on a new delivery model.

“Because The Trust was unable to invite people in” explained Sam “my work included serving the public, co-ordinating volunteers and managing deliveries and its drivers.”

“I managed the volunteer schedule and worked with British Gas drivers who had volunteered to help – and I did a few deliveries myself.”

An efficient service

To improve efficiency, Sam also put his Excel skills into action.

“There were multiple spreadsheets being used to track and monitor the people who’d been referred to the food banks and when deliveries had to be made.”

“I consolidated the data they were working with to better manage the delivery process and avoid duplicate deliveries.”

“This meant that the food banks could get food to the families much quicker, cope with the increased demand and monitor the volume of deliveries they were completing, so that they could ensure that they had sufficient stock and volunteers to create the food parcels.”

Since Sam’s secondment in Brent ended, he continues to support the food banks remotely. His ongoing work helping Claudia and the team analyse data on how many people are using the food banks is helping them to manage their resources and will form a vital part of future funding applications.

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