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Tales from the Food Bank: a little help from your friends

"YOU CAN'T take people home with parcels," says Kyle solemnly at our training session.

I think he said something about insurance complications in your car, there have to be limits, time is precious.

The session is on dealing with clients, where we come up with thoughts on how they feel on arrival, and how they should feel once they've left the foodbank.

Grateful isn't high on my list: I think that gratitude belongs to donors, and clients have enough on their plates without spending energy thanking us.

I'm not sure we all agree on the word entitled, though: I pipe up that there's a moral entitlement and everyone is entitled to eat. Mmm, well, suppose so ... but I haven't had to deal with the aggressive clients yet: "I'm entitled to a handout, so gimme," can harden the kindest hearts.

Days later I'm weighing a parcel - a six, for three adults and three kids. It's 30kg, and I take care lifting the box.

"Ms H" I shout into the corridor.

"That's me" replies a dark-haired woman. She has a nice smile ¬- and a leg in plaster.

"I'll help with it," says her pal, with three bags of food himself. They live 10 minutes' walk away, 20 on crutches. With two or three trips they'll be back and forth all afternoon, but the foodbank closes in half an hour.

I glance at manager Gill. "I can take her stuff round in my car if she walks it," I say. I get the nod. "Can't give you a lift - insurance," I tell Ms H. I take as much as I can carry out to the car; the client follows painfully slowly, her friend bringing the rest.

Did I give that hungry, limping woman a lift? Good heavens, that would be against the rules ...

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