Pay volunteers for working in food banks, councillor urges

Volunteers who have worked for months supporting food banks and food hubs in Brighton and Hove should be paid, a leading councillor said today (Thursday 3 December).

Councillor Nancy Platts

Labour group leader Nancy Platts urged the council to look into offering paid positions at food banks which are currently run by volunteers.

At a “virtual” meeting of Brighton and Hove City Council’s Policy and Resources Committee, she said that many people were desperate and needed food banks.

But they were reliant on volunteers, many of whom were burnt out after putting in long hours over many months.

Councillor Platts asked for a report to look into paying the lead volunteers who were ensuring that people were fed in what has become a full-time job.

She said that she had heard some volunteers sinking into debt to keep food banks going.

She added: “People feel like the council should be taking the lead in this and the council should be paying people to run the food banks.

“It is absolutely essential that we feed people in our city and consideration should be given to paying the lead volunteers who are effectively running the food hubs as a full-time job.

“We cannot expect them to stay out of work to help other people.

“I’m sure we all feel really disappointed we’re finding ourselves back in lockdown when we thought we were heading out of the pandemic and talking about recovery.”

Labour councillor Gill Williams shared her experience of working alongside volunteers in Whitehawk, in her East Brighton ward.

Councillor Gill Williams

Councillor Williams said: “I work with the Robert Lodge food kitchen, set up through the East Brighton Food Co-op.

“The kitchen is run entirely by volunteers who work long hours cooking and delivering over 200 meal every day to folk in need in Whitehawk and beyond.

“This is one of the most deprived areas in Brighton and Hove – and covid is having a devastating effect on many.

“East Brighton Food Co-op are literally performing a miracle every day providing so many with a daily nutritious meal.

“It is absolutely essential that this project is properly supported so that this important work can continue. At least one paid organiser is a necessity.”

A full report is due to be brought before the council’s Policy and Resources Recovery Sub-Committee on Wednesday 6 January.

  1. Greens Out Reply

    Having spent five months of furlough paid ‘volunteering’ I feel I am well placed to make my following comments.

    Volunteers…volunteer. They give up their own time and commitments through choice. No person is forcing them to volunteer and at no point did any of my fellow ‘volunteers’ ever, EVER, ask for payment.

    We gave EVERY bit of our heart and soul into that project and yeah, occasionally it would be ‘can I just have a couple of days off together’always granted of course.

    The sheer notion of paying volunteers is wrong.

    If I’d been offered any sort of ‘pay’ for that time I VOLUNTEERED I would have refused it.

    Sorry Nancy, You’re just completely wrong on this. YES, many people have given up a LOT to help, but at any time, as volunteers, they could have just said, No thanks.

    Volunteers, volunteer because they want to.

    That’s why I’m rejoining the project I worked on in the summer as of next week. I have my diary booked out from work for one evening, at least, to be part of it.

    I would not want, and do not want, any pay whatsoever.

  2. Nigel Furness Reply

    In your brief stint as Council Leader, Nancy, you were forever pleading poverty on behalf of your Administration and yet now, as part of the Coalition with the ‘Greens,’ You seem happy to chuck money around “like a woman with no arms,” as the old saying goes.
    Is it any wonder that People question whether there is, somewhere in the Council’s coffers, a hidden ‘CROCK OF GOLD’—earmarked for funding PET PROJECTS?
    And, by the way, Greens Out’s comments above are spot on!

    • Rolivan Reply

      Well for a start Nigel there should be £10m left from the sale of Kings House and the extortianate cost to refurb Hove Town Hall.There is also about £10m from Parking Revenue after allowing for Admin and Bus Pass Costs.There is also the lost £20m in the last 10 years from mismanagement by Heads of Departments being paid large Salaries but not doing there job properly.The Council has a Property Portfolio of over 1600 properties which if managed properly could bring in even more money.That is without even having to delve just below the surface.

  3. Valerie Reply

    The major charity shops have paid full time managers these days along with volunteer staff. Food banks that are big enough to require at least one full time organiser/manager might well benefit from doing the same. The serious need is growing and ever greater organisation will surely be needed too.

    • Rolivan Reply

      However that will require somebody from The Council to oversee operations and just like the many Homeless Agencies that operate in the City too much money goes to ‘Management’and not enough at the core.

  4. Greens Out Reply

    “However that will require somebody from The Council to oversee operations…”

    Well that’s doomed then.

  5. Chris Reply

    Another attempt to create more jobs in the still-emerging local service sector “The poor”. Don’t forget if you employ people you have to offer them holidays and pension rights, and no doubt an HR and accounts team to oversee all that. After a few months the food banks won’t be interested in food, only money to pay salaries, and in time no doubt more to plug their pension funding gap.
    Wouldn’t we be better off creating jobs for “the poor” rather than inventing ways of keeping them poor.

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