Carol Cahill is July’s Community Hero!
The rise of food banks has been one of the most contentious topics of the past year with the number of visitors nationwide surpassing the million-mark.
So when Carol Cahill, who runs FEED, the food bank operating out of the Vineyard Church in St Albans, found out she was this month’s winner of the Maltings Community Hero Award she was pleasantly surprised.
“I knew nothing about it,” she said. “I was in London that day and I had people texting me saying, ‘congratulations’ and I thought, ‘what is going on?’ Then somebody is ringing me telling me when to come and pick up a cheque.”
Carol has run FEED for six years – four of which were voluntary – and was nominated by one of the food bank’s success stories.
She explained: “Peter [Hardy] came to us two or three years ago. He came back from Romania where he had lost everything. He used to run a factory in Romania and then something went horribly wrong and then he got cancer so he came back to St Albans because he grew up here.
“I turned up one day when he was in temporary accommodation. He’d lost his family who don’t want to know him – he had nobody. I turned up with a duvet and a pillow and, to him, it meant the world.”
Carol began running the service in 2009, and has seen it grow and grow; the service now hands out an average of 90 food parcels each week.
She explained: “We’re about long-term support. Other food-banks in this country are about emergency help; they give emergency help for a few months and you have to a voucher system.
“But, at FEED we’re don’t require vouchers. It’s very rare we turn anybody away.”
Carol said she was planning to spend her £100 Malting’s gift voucher at Lush.
Maltings manager, Phil Corrigan, said: “It was lovely to meet Carol, who I have to say is a sheer inspiration and a very deserving winner of this month’s Community Hero Award.
“I hope that the publicity gained from the award will help this worthy cause and encourage the local community to dig deep and donate any unwanted clothes, food and other essential items which will then be given to whoever is in need in our community.
“The Maltings is very proud to be a part of this and will continue to support Carol’s fundraising efforts and help spread the word of FEED. Congratulations, very well deserved.”