Raising Funds for the Trussell Trust
In association with the cyclists’ group from The Prince Albert
Oxford to Abingdon 11 miles
A swollen, turbid, fast flowing river; blackthorn blossom; osiers, rushes and willows half-drowned; many trees down with the recent storms. Flooded mediaeval water meadows; rain at twilight.
I had companions today, including a food bank volunteer for Stroud. Here are some observations from a weekly commitment:
‘Stroud Foodbank has two outlets in Stroud town and a few others in the District. I help run the Nailsworth one. We don’t have much demand, so we don’t have weekly drop-in sessions in a centre. But, of course, there are some individuals in our little town who can benefit from what the Foodbank offers. They can contact the Foodbank office and obtain a voucher through the usual channels, and we arrange a Foodbank delivery to their home.’
‘I volunteer at Stroud Foodbank on Fridays, usually this is the busiest session of the week. We never know who might turn up on the day. We have a wide range of customers. A few we see every now and then who have longer term issues, others are just one-offs, caught out by temporary problems – job losses, benefit delays, health issues, work with unreliable hours etc.’
‘Although we are there mainly to help them with food parcels, we try to engage with our clients on other matters. Our experience is that the local agencies work well together, but we check that our clients haven’t slipped through the net regarding other help that could be out there for them.’
From our customers.
‘When my husband was made redundant it took a bit of time before the money came through from his new job. We just needed some help to bridge that gap. We were so pleased that the people of Stroud had given so much nice food. And not just food, there was shampoo and toilet rolls too, and a bit of pet food! It made a difficult time for our family a bit easier.’
‘I was a bit scared when I first needed the Foodbank. Going into a room and feeling a bit like a beggar. But the volunteers were so friendly to me. They were kind to me, and made me feel comfortable, before we went through the food parcel. I’m a vegetarian, and they managed to help me, which was great.’
And this from Robin Treefellow:
Was a country
thick and fast flowing
through the gizzard of Oxford’s streets.
By canal, over bridge, we tramped after the great swilling of Thames
and the thrashing tail of Cherwell.
The mud ground slipping, the land finding river,
and the geese clamouring ghosts,
honking grey-barred spirits of the Thames:
their wings beat at the air.
Oxford left behind,
the marshy seat of scholars and professors:
Oxford with its well-bred students in costly gowns, or panting up and
down the canal to maintain a well-bred outline:
Here is: Poplar trees, reeds, birch, sedge,
the citizenry of the Thames path,
the river in the thoughts of everything, absorbed, drunk up.
Existence is the river flowing on through the low fields
where I cannot see a tarmac road or a house.
Hinksey, Iffley, Radley: the powers to summon
on this day.
I walked as fish stride,
ahead there’s more water and more water
to welcome us back to the visceral earth.
As ants scream in summer,
as the Thames roars in winter,
as our hearts tremble in our skins.
The path by the river was all the land left
between us and the primordial ordinance of water way
whirling and going on.
not long lasting:
the river is always.
completed what I couldn’t.
Treefellow 2020 February