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Anna Maughan and Maureen Stell have received a Diocese of Westminster Social Action Award for their work developing Finchley Foodbank during the COVID-19 pandemic. At a virtual awards ceremony hosted by Caritas Volunteer Service on 2nd June, Anna and Maureen were named winners of the Parish Social Outreach Award. This award recognises volunteers working for a project supported by a Catholic parish in the Diocese of Westminster. Thirty individuals and groups were nominated across five award categories. As well as recognising the five winners, the ceremony was a celebration of all the nominees and all volunteers in the diocese.

Finchley Foodbank was founded in 2013 to meet the needs of the local community. It is an ecumenical project of St Mary's, East Finchley and other local churches and organisations. The foodbank operates from St Mary's parish centre. During the pandemic, the foodbank expanded its services and now provides food for up to 400 clients every weekend. Anna and Maureen were instrumental in developing the foodbank's outreach to serve eight times as many clients than before the pandemic.

Anna is the Vice Chair of Finchley Foodbank, with responsibility for recruiting volunteers, organising volunteer rotas, sourcing food and raising money. She is hands-on and helps to organise the foodbank seven days a week.

Maureen works behind the scenes sorting and packaging the food ready for distribution. This is a lot of work for 400 clients, and she has recruited volunteers to help. There is always a lot of chatting and laughter as the food is sorted, and Maureen shows great respect and care for all the volunteers she works with.

Anna ensures that clients are welcomed and respected, and where possible are given the same choice of food that we all enjoy when shopping. She takes extra time to encourage clients and volunteers. Recently an eight-year-old boy raised £500 so the foodbank could buy a stock of UHT milk. Anna invited him to see the delivery and has labelled each carton of milk with his name.

Fr Peter Scott, Parish Priest at St Mary’s, East Finchley and Chair of Finchley Foodbank, has been inspired by Anna and Maureen and describes them as each having 'a wise pair of shoulders for me to lean on'.

On receiving the award, Anna said:

'Finchley Foodbank is a team of many parts, which reflects all aspects of the community. Our family of volunteers and supporters make the sharing of food with so many a straightforward task despite the challenges of the time we are living in. I am very proud to be part of the Finchley Foodbank team, which shows kindness and generosity in all that they do.'

Maureen commented: 'The foodbank is like "the feeding of the 5,000". We never run out of food due to the wonderful support of many individuals in our community.'

Banner image (L-R) shows Anna Maughan and Maureen Stell.