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Thames engineer delivers festive cheer to South West London foodbank

Thursday 17th December 2020 11:39

A man in orange hi-vis standing in front of an open van containing food donations

A Thames Water engineer with a big heart has helped spread festive cheer this Christmas by donating food and holiday extras to Wandsworth Foodbank, which is part of the Trussell Trust network. 

Kane Bell, who works in the fatberg-fighting sewer team in North West London, organised and raised £480 from family, friends and work colleagues for buying foodbank essentials. 

The donations included crates of tinned goods such as tomatoes and beans, Christmas sweets and pasta, and were enough to fill a Thames Water van. 

Kane, whose day job involves keeping the capital’s large Victorian sewers in shape by fixing and cleaning pipes, and helping them stay clear of fatbergs, said: “It was the least I could do. We deliver an essential service, and the Wandsworth Foodbank is doing the same for the many people who are having a tough time right now. 

“My family and I have been donating to clothes and foodbanks for a while, and word that we were organising this spread quickly amongst them and the lads who work with me at the depot. Everyone wanted to help and within three hours we’d already raised £250.” 

Kane’s donation will go towards emergency food provided by Wandsworth Foodbank for the community. Every day during the first six months of the pandemic, food banks in The Trussell Trust’s network provided 2,600 food parcels for children. 

Wandsworth Foodbank has seen demand more than double since the start of the pandemic, and during the first lockdown supported more than 1,200 households across Wandsworth Borough – seven in 10 of whom had never had to use the foodbank before.

Dan Frith, Wandsworth Foodbank manager, said: “We’re sadly busier than ever, with a record number of people pulled into hardship and destitution being referred to us for emergency food, advice and support. We’re so grateful for this thoughtful and generous donation, which we’ll add to food parcels delivered to people’s homes in the coming days.”

Kane added: “When we dropped off the donations, we found out almost everyone at the foodbank warehouse was a volunteer. If they couldn’t donate money or food, they donated their time instead which was amazing to see. They were very happy when we turned up with our full van.”

Kane’s proud manager, Natalie Stearn, said: “We’re committed to supporting customers who may be struggling during these difficult times. I’m proud to be the line manager of this thoughtful, kind and generous young man. I hope this act of kindness shown at the end of a difficult year will bring a bit of festive cheer to those who need it most.” 

To further support customers this year, Thames Water has donated £730,000 to its trust fund to help people with debt advice, supported 33,000 extra customers through its WaterHelp social tariff which gives them 50 per cent off their water bill and distributed £1.7m in grants to help those with water bill debt.  

It runs a free Priority Services Register for customers with long-term health conditions, mobility issues or those who qualify for a state pension. Those registered receive a delivery of bottled water to their homes should their supply ever be interrupted. 

Earlier this month, the company’s staff volunteered with the East End Community Foundation (EECF) to pack Winter Care packages including, toiletries, treats and other items which will be given to more than 1,600 elderly vulnerable residents in time for Christmas. Thames Water contributed £1,000 towards the cost of the packages, which follows a £10,000 donation from the company in May to support the foundation’s coronavirus emergency appeal.  

Four people in a warehouse with trollies containing food donations