12 Aug 2020

member

DSG spotlight: Faye Wheeler

During the pandemic, we’ve been inspired by the members of the team who have gone above and beyond to those most in need in their communities. From taking part in raising money through physical challenges, to helping those who are shielding, it’s been great to see just how much passion our DSG colleagues have to help others through this difficult time.

Faye Wheeler is an excellent example of this. Faye has been on the tax team at DSG since April 2018 as she works toward her ACA CTA qualification. She has been using her time outside of work to volunteer with the Big Help Project, a local charity with a goal to “feed the hungry, overcome poverty, to free people from the burden of unmanageable personal debt, to help people into affordable housing, and to assist people on to a better future”.

Faye has spent the last 3 months assisting with the Big Help Project’s Community Food Partnerships (CFPs), which are volunteer-and staff-run community stores that offer their members food and other essential household items. For £3.50 each week, members can choose up to ten grocery items which amounts to an approximate value of around £10-15.

CFP's will always give a FREE emergency food parcel on someone/ a family’s first visit, but then they are helped, supported and signposted to gain advice in a number of sectors that can help them. One being the Foodclub side, teaching them to keep just £3.50 a week to feed their family. This then leads to budgeting and debt advice, wellbeing, housing, welfare, etc, create a Community Hub based around the weekly family shop.

One key aspect of the CFPs, that in normal circumstances would be food clubs, members can stay for a cup of tea and a chat, and this sense of community is central to everything the Big Help Project does. However, with social distancing measures in place, this has not been possible, and the CFPs have been operating more like shops.

Prior to Covid-19 all volunteers came from firstly being a member of Foodclubs. This then leads to employment opportunities, which there have been several internally and externally. It gives people confidence and a feeling of wellbeing, thus the ability to change their life's, if they wish to. No longer alienated or isolated, or feeling that there is no hope of change. It gives them options and opportunities they not may not have had before.

Volunteers like Faye have been instrumental in maintaining the community atmosphere and have taken to bringing supplies to those who are shielding and may not otherwise get face-to-face contact with other people. Whether it’s a chat through the window or a just dropping off food for the week, these volunteers are vital to keeping these organisations running.

Speaking on her experience of volunteering with the Big Help Project, Faye said:

Being part of such an important charity has been extremely rewarding. There is a real community atmosphere and I’ve met so many incredible people, both members of the CFPs and other volunteers and staff.

“I started volunteering with the Big Help Project around October 2019 and soon realised how much these places rely on the generosity of volunteers, particularly in what has been such a difficult time. Many people believe that you need a lot of spare time to make a difference, but all it takes is a few hours each week, and you can help so many people. I would encourage anyone with a few hours to spare to find your local foodbank – I’m sure they would love your help!”

Faye was introduced to the Big Help Project by Mike Black, the founder of the New Destination Network CIC, which assists disadvantaged, disassociated, under-funded and alienated individuals, groups and organisations in Liverpool.

Having been working with Faye for some time, Mike said: “Volunteers like Faye are what keep our organisation running. We rely on them for the day-to-day operations of our services and for fostering the community atmosphere that is central to everything we do. This pandemic has totally changed our ways of working, and we have had to quickly adapt by bringing the community out to those who were shielding under these difficult circumstances. Without professional and hardworking people like Faye, this would not be possible to as large an extent.

“Unfortunately, this year has seen a sharp rise in the number of people relying on organisations such as our food clubs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our target for the year is to help 10,000 people and by June we had already surpassed that. Therefore, we would encourage anyone with a few spare hours a week to consider donating your time to a place like ours and make an enormous difference to our community.”

I’m sure you will all join me in thanking Faye for being a dedicated member of the DSG team, but most importantly for the work she is doing in her spare time when people need it most.

For more information on the Big Help Project, and to find out how to get involved, visit: www.bighelpproject.com

Faye Wheeler
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