A well deserved Birthday Honour for Foodbank manager
The manager of Lisburn’s Foodbank, Lynsey Agnew. has received an BEM in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours.
Revealed last Friday, Lynsey, who was recognised for her tireless work and decdication throughout the covid pandemic, said she was “in total shock” when she received the noticiation,
“I got a surprise email about a month ago letting me know I had been awarded the BEM,” edpxlained Lynsey.
“it was in the middle of a crazy hectic day and at first I thought oh is this a scam email but then when I opened it I realised what it was and I was in total shock!”
Although the nomination prcess remains a secret Lynsey has a sneaking suspicion about who may be behind her honour. “I have a suspicion it was the 2019/20 Mayor Alan Givan although I haven’t confirmed that with him yet,” she revealed.
“He was very supportive during the start of the pandemic and I remember him asking for lots of info about my role at LCC Community Trust and how I overseen the Covid response for the food boxes and stepped up to support the council and other groups at that time.”
Lynsey couldn’t believe the news when she received the official letter telling her about the recognition, and she even admits to shedding a tear or two.
“I was blown away when I received the letter,” she continued. If truth be told I did shed a little tear.
“For me, I already find it an honour to do the job the I do and to serve my community in a practical and compassionate way but to be recognised for it in such a special way really does mean a lot.
“Being a born and breed Lisburn girl I love our city and the people. I love my job and the service we provide to the community,
“I often joke that I hate it when I am not in work. I don’t see it as a job but as my passion so I truly see this recognition as being for our fantastic team not just for me. I am blessed to be surrounded by a team of staff and volunteers and our partner agencies who truly want to serve our city. “
Recipients of the honours are asked to keep it a secret until it is formally announced in June. Howver Lynsey admits she may have let it slip.
“I did tell one or two of my immediate family as I couldn’t contain my excitement but they were sworn to secrecy,” she said.
Throughout the pandemic, Lisburn Foodbank provided a vital lifeline to many families in desperate need during the difficult time. Demand for the support of the foodbank skyrocketed as families reached out to make use of the service.
It became so important to people in Lisburn that outgoing Mayor, Councillor Nicholas Trimble, even choose it as one of his Mayoral charities last year.
“From March 2019 we started to see a huge surge in the demand of food parcels, in fact by the last week in March we had almost used up our entire supply of food which we had expected to last into the Summer,” explained Lynsey.
“Thankfully as the lockdown was announced we were in close contact with the team at Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council and we were more than happy to offer our experience and expertise in managing food parcels and arranging volunteers to support with deliveries etc.
“Through our partnership approach with many other local charities in the city we were able to support 400+ households each week in the greater Lisburn area during the first lockdown period.
“Overall for the 2020/21 year we fed in access of 6000 people which is double our usual number.
“We were fortunate to be well supported by not only local council and funders but also our incredible local supporters who give so generously when they shop in our local supermarkets or give through local schools, churches or sports club collections.
“We are forever grateful to all those in our community who stepped up to support the needs of their neighbours. “
Lynsey would like to thank everyone who works and volunteers at the foodbank to support it’s important work.
“I want to say a huge thank you to our team of staff and volunteers who worked tirelessly with me throughout this last year.
“Seeing how many people wanted to step up and offer help whether it be collecting food donations, making up parcels or delivering to some of the most vulnerable in our community, it constantly reminds me of the good in our city.
“We even had drivers who come regularly to do dump runs for us because they just want to help in whatever practical way is needed. Our work is by no means glamorous but it is so rewarding.”
Lynsey has an important message for anyone who may be in need in the city. “I want to remind everyone in our community who may be struggling at this time that help is available,” she added. “Please do not struggle alone, if you have recently lost your job or had a change in your financial circumstances then please come and see us.
“Too many people are waiting until they have burned through their savings, credit cards and overdraft before coming to see us but we want to get the support in place before people get to that stage.
WWe offer so much more than a food parcel, everything from budgeting support, to debt advice, as well as our different food offerings and wellbeing support. Please get in touch to see how we can help you get back on your feet.”