Rules seem to be changing almost on a daily basis at the moment as a result of the increase in coronavirus cases and many people are experiencing high levels of anxiety and worry.

It can be a very unnerving experience for most of us with the new do’s and don’ts of shopping but it’s especially difficult for those vulnerable members of our communities.

Here are a few questions we have received this week relating to issues of concern.

Q. I would like to go to my nearest food bank but I’m worried about standing in the queue for a long time as I get nervous in crowds.

A. If you are able to call in advance, I’m sure one of the volunteers at your food bank would be able to advise you on the best time to come. They may be able to put a parcel aside for you to collect nearer their finishing time which might help you if they are aware of your concerns. It might also be worth asking if they do deliveries or, even better, ask someone to collect on your behalf if that’s an option.

Q. I need food but I do not speak English very well, how can I be understood? I will be embarrassed. I am from Turkey.

A. Some food banks are likely to ask you basic questions like your name, age and postcode, so try not to worry too much, others may not ask you any questions at all. We have many non English speaking visitors at our food bank; some write their names, age and address on a piece of paper, and bring it with them in the beginning for our volunteers until we get to know them – perhaps that’s something you could try.

Q. I have heard that the bags of food are very heavy, I’m worried about going in case I can’t carry them because I use a walking stick in one hand and I don’t want to feel stupid or seem ungrateful if I can’t take the bag away on my own.

A. Quite a lot of the items in a food parcel tend to be tins of food and packets which can be heavy to carry, especially if you only have the use of one hand. A couple of options might be to bring a small shopping trolley with you – the ones made of fabric with two wheels – or if you phone ahead they might have time to try to sort something out for you. No harm in asking.

Remember that it can take a lot of courage for someone to come to a food bank and therefore anxiety may be at a higher level. Try to have patience and help someone in need if you can.

Maybe one of your neighbours, or someone you know, struggles with one of the issues raised today. Maybe you could help them. There’s no harm in asking.

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