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).
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 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.
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