A Specsavers donation to the Pantry in November 2023. Image credit: Llanrumney Hall Pantry

Llanrumney Hall Pantry “can see themselves struggling down the line” unless they get more volunteers

The community food service is a lifeline for manybut it needs help to survive and thrive

A COMMUNITY food pantry needs extra help to boost its core group of volunteers amid fears the service may struggle in the future without new blood.

The pantry, which has been running since 2020, has had “the same three or four volunteers” throughout that time, said Ronan Dowling, Marketing and Communications manager for Llanrumney Hall.

“If one of them leaves, then we’re in a very difficult situation,” he said.

The pantry is always in need of donations. Image credit: Llanrumney Hall Pantry

The Pantry would like to attract some younger volunteers to help with what can be a physical role.

“Quite a lot of our volunteers are 60-plus, you can’t expect them to do everything themselves,” says Llanrumney Hall manager Kat Hinton.

What does the Pantry do?

Wales footballer and pantry ambassador Jess Fishlock MBE and Llanrumney Hall trustee Steve Borley (right). Image credit: Llanrumney Hall Pantry.

Llanrumney Hall Pantry is not a food bank, it is for paying customers, and has 450 people signed up.

However, the emphasis is on providing help for those who are struggling with the rising cost of living.

Customers at the panty pay £7 but get to choose £20-40 worth of food. Period products are also offered free of charge.

The pantry often has long queues around the building at Llanrumney Hall from 8.30am, said Ms Hinton.

“For some people, it is the difference between eating and not eating,” she said. 

What does the Pantry need?

Vaughan Gething at the Pantry during the COVID-19 pandemic. Image credit: Llanrumney Hall Pantry

The Pantry is open 51 weeks a year with a brief break over Christmas.

It currently provides its service one day a week, on Thursdays, but want to be able to expand to offer multiple days of the week with a morning and evening service. Families and those who work aren’t always able to reach the service when it’s open.  

Specific areas for help include another driver, who can go to food collection spots within Cardiff, or accompany the driver to do the heavy lifting for him, but the Pantry is keen to hear from anyone who can help.  

“As long as the person is driven and is able to commit themselves, we’ll find a role for them,” said Mr Dowling.

They are also looking for volunteers to help with “people management and membership management,” he said. This would involve keeping customers happy, sitting down and chatting with them, explaining the shopping system etc. 

‘More than just food’

The pantry made a donation to Ukraine. Image credit: Llanrumney Hall Pantry

“It’s all about the community coming together,” said head volunteer Lynne Martin, 60, who has 22 years of retail experience working at Co-op.

The service is much more than just the food. The community spirit is vital to the area and volunteers and customers alike have been able to form strong connections. 

“Sometimes that’s all the community that they have got,” said Mrs Martin.  

There is such a level of closeness between the volunteers and customers that if a person has not shown up in a while, the volunteers will phone to check up on them, she said.  

“It is a lot of commitment. A lot of effort, blood, sweat and tears,” she said.