Bulwell community heroine is made an OBE
A Bulwell woman who set up a new food bank in the town during the pandemic has been made an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.
Maria Shakespeare has been awarded the honour for voluntary service, particularly at the Crabtree Community Centre where she started the new food bank last October.
Maria said: “I am so proud to be an OBE.
"I was looking through my emails and there was one from the cabinet office and with all these scams going around, I thought ‘yeah right’, that can’t be true’.
"But then I showed it to my kids and my son said ‘mum, that’s real.’
"I’m very proud to be on the honours list from the Queen.
“It’s fantastic, not just for me and the work I’ve done, but for the whole Crabtree area.”
Maria started the Crabtree food bank after getting £10,000 funding from the National Lottery, after teaming up with A Star Sports Developments who wanted to do multi-sport activities.
She said: “We got the bid in together and we were able to offer food, toys and bikes.
"We did it to help families in food poverty because Christmas was coming and this was to help get them essentials like food, clothes, pyjamas and things that just helped families.”
The take-up for the food bank has been very high with more than 140 families coming to Maria and her team of volunteers for help.
Maria continued: “There was no food bank nearby for this people because the nearest one otherwise was in Top Valley and that was hard for some people to get to, so we opened one at Crabtree and we’ve got it here still.
"We always try our best to help everyone in need and you can always see the ones who are genuine.
"We work with organisations like Framework too and sometimes the city council will refer families to us as well.”
The food bank has its volunteers who come in and help pack backs and deliver food out to people, particularly the elderly.
Among the volunteers is Bulwell councillor Maria Joannou who helps deliver food parcels to residents.
More volunteers are needed particularly drivers to deliver parcels but also to help prepare the parcels.
Food donations are also welcome, to donate or volunteer, call Maria Shakespeare on 07969 751314.