Bassetlaw Food Bank manager describes “emotional trip” during Christmas deliveries

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The manager of Bassetlaw Food Bank has told how a struggling mum ‘burst into tears’ when he dropped a Christmas food parcel - containing much-needed fruit and veg - at her home.

Robert Garland described an ‘emotional trip’ when the woman’s young son saw a box of Christmas crackers in the hamper and yelled “mum, Christmas has arrived”.

Dad-of-two Robert said: “We’d managed to blag some fruit and veg from some of the local farm shops and the mum was in tears because the shop we gave her really was enough for seven days.

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“She was overwhelmed and that really got to me - it just makes you realise.”

Robert Garland with Christmas suppliesRobert Garland with Christmas supplies
Robert Garland with Christmas supplies

Robert, who has worked for the food bank for six weeks and has a background in supermarket distribution, told how at the height of the pandemic the food bank was helping 160 families a week and had helped over 3,500 people since April.

Former grocer Robert said at the beginning of lockdown 60 per cent of users were in food poverty due to Covid-19 isolation – however almost all the referrals were now financially-related.

Robert said: “As society and shops have adapted and we’ve adapted the number of financial hardship cases is growing.

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Bassetlaw Food Band Manager Robert Garland with a ready-prepared Christmas bagBassetlaw Food Band Manager Robert Garland with a ready-prepared Christmas bag
Bassetlaw Food Band Manager Robert Garland with a ready-prepared Christmas bag

“There’s a lot of families dropping into food poverty because their jobs have gone or they still have jobs but aren’t getting over-time or their jobs are on flat hours.

“Or something dramatic happens like the washing machine blows up and they have to choose between food or sorting the washing machine out.

“It’s a fine line - cases are steadily growing by eight or nine families a week.

“My worry is next year and what’s going to happen after Christmas - no-one knows what’s going to happen but it’s frightening because you can only see the demand going up.”

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The contents of a festive bag being sent out to people in food povertyThe contents of a festive bag being sent out to people in food poverty
The contents of a festive bag being sent out to people in food poverty

However Robert, 54, told how the people of Bassetlaw had been “incredibly generous” in the run-up to Christmas.

He said: “At Christmas the main driver is people’s generosity - and the last two weeks have been incredible.

People are more aware of how close they are to that line - and those in stable economic situations are probably more aware that they’re lucky.”

Schools and supermarkets have all come forward with donations - with Robert describing Morrisons as “on another level”.

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He said: “The amount of food coming in has been unprecedented but it’s inline with a demand that’s going up.

“I worry about next year but I worry less because I know I’ve got food to keep families going.”

Manager Robert told how in one example of kindness two Gateford friends had brought in donations from six schools and over 300 households after organising a food drive - collecting supplies from people’s driveways.

Robert said: “It was just the most wonderful atmosphere - the food that came from that was sufficient for two weeks.”

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The food bank - supported by Bassetlaw District Council, Bassetlaw Community and Voluntary Service and Manton’s CLS Community Centre from where it is based - relies on 55 volunteers who help out taking deliveries or driving food to householders.

You can make a cash donation to the food bank at and find out more about making a food donation at

Follow the food bank’s Facebook page at

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.