During National Volunteers week, the Huddersfield Town Foundation caught up with the team at the Welcome Centre in Huddersfield.

The Foundation has a long-standing relationship with the Centre and recognises that both organisations only survive with the support of local volunteers

A registered charity, the Welcome Centre offers a Food Bank service to local people in need, as well as giving guidance and support to those looking to get back on their feet.

It does this with the help of funds raised from the Town Foundation’s Big Sleep Out events, which see Huddersfield Town supporters spend the night at the John Smiths Stadium.

The Centre also benefited from the Foundation’s Little Big Sleep Out event in 2019. Aimed at raising awareness of homelessness in Kirklees, Primary School children put together a food parcel worth £5, which was generously matched by Approved Foods.

May saw an increase in demand for the Welcome Centre’s services for the second month running.  An average of 65-70 packs were made per day, despite having roughly 30 volunteers working compared to the usual 100.

With that in mind, we asked Welcome Centre Treasurer and Food Bank Volunteer Richard Whiteley about his role, the benefits of volunteering and more:

What does your role as a volunteer at the Welcome Centre entail?

My normal role as a volunteer at The Welcome Centre involves making up ‘packs’ for people in crisis. We prepare several types of packs, such as food (which we try to make as meals), toiletries, cleaning, or even home starter packs.

Why do you volunteer?

I took early retirement just over 3 years ago and decided that I wanted to get involved at a practical level with a charity that is doing great work in the community. I had financially supported the Welcome Centre for many years, so this seemed to be a good fit.

What are the benefits of volunteering?

You become a small part of an organisation that is meeting a real need in our town and that brings a lot of job satisfaction – far more than paid employment ever did!

You also become part of a small dedicated team and get to know and work with like-minded people.

Has your role or the service the Welcome centre provides changed since the start of COVID-19?

At the start of lockdown, the centre closed to the public, however we continued to take referrals and provide packs to those in need, as we have always done.

We had to change our way of working considerably and ensure we followed the latest guidance. We were able to switch from a collection service to a delivery service thanks to the tremendous support we received from Kirklees Council.

What advice would you give somebody looking to start volunteering?

Look for something you are interested in or concerned about. Do a bit of research and then give it a go!

The Huddersfield Town Foundation also supports the Welcome Centre through its ‘Fans for Foodbanks’ scheme.

The Foundation provides bins outside the John Smiths Stadium on Huddersfield Town home matchdays for supporters to donate non-perishable tinned goods, all of which are distributed to the Welcome Centre and Batley Foodbank.

If you would like more information about the Welcome Centre and their work, you can visit their website by clicking here.

To find out how you can support the Huddersfield Town Foundation, contact  Fundraising Coordinator Lisa Bottomley via lisa.bottomley@htafcfoundation.com or 07741671596.