The Bread and Butter Thing (TBBT) is a charity that makes life more affordable for people on a low income. Their mission is to create a fair solution for people in poverty and to address the premiums that people in poverty pay for food, loans, energy and other everyday essentials simply because of their personal circumstances.

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, TBBT has seen a 460% rise in demand for its support growing to almost 12,000 members. It is currently feeding 3,500 families a week across its 34 hubs in Greater Manchester and Darlington.

Steve Finbow is our business change project manager. Before being furloughed TBBT put a call out looking for a volunteer coordinator. In the initial days of the pandemic Steve balanced working with Salix Homes calling their vulnerable tenants and supporting TBBT. Shortly after Steve was furloughed, he increased his time at TBBT. Five months on Steve is back at work full time and has decided to continue supporting TBBT in his spare time.

We caught up with Steve to find out more about volunteering at TBBT.

How often do you work at TBBT?

During furlough I was volunteering for four or five days a week for around half a day, though now I’m at my full time job, I still come in three times a week to the warehouse for a couple of hours, as well as the occasional weekend shift.

What does your role entail?

One of my main tasks is to recruit volunteers and then plan the rota for the volunteers to ensure all required jobs are filled. I’m also in contact with companies and universities across the regions to ask for support with resources.

Steve Finbow

What challenges have you found whilst volunteering?

Social distancing is a challenge that we have to overcome every day as we need to make sure that everyone keeps two metres apart - this impacts the amount of people we can have safely working at any one time.

Also, staffing has been an issue. Before the pandemic, the bulk of TBBT’s volunteers were over 70 or are in the vulnerable category. With a lot of them having to shield during lockdown, the way we operated changed overnight.

When I first started, we had around a dozen volunteers to fill roughly 100 shifts over the week. I’m proud to say that I’ve managed to grow the team of volunteers to over 120 volunteers and operate with 275 shifts a week.

What have you enjoyed about volunteering?

I’ve enjoyed meeting so many different people. We have volunteers from all walks of life here and I have to say, they’re all amazing.

I noticed a lot of people were struggling mentally with the isolation and boredom of being confined to their homes.

Knowing that we were also able to help and support people with their mental health by giving them a safe place to get out and have the social interaction was also very positive and rewarding.

You can find out more about The Bread and Butter Thing, find out how to donate food or how to apply to volunteer by visiting their website -