Adrian Cozens enjoys making a difference in his new job, yet he would love nothing more than for the position to not be needed.

Adrian, 53, is project manager for North Lakes Foodbank which provides emergency food parcels from six West Cumbrian centres.

Having worked in commercial settings, Adrian felt it was time to take on a community-focused job. He says: “I have spent 25 years working for other people, making money for other people. I was looking for something more worthwhile.”

Since taking up his role in September, Adrian has been learning operations and is now looking at how to develop the charity’s work, as well as still feeding people in crisis.

The foodbank, he says, has a key role to play in Allerdale and Copeland, but in an ideal world it would not be needed.

Adrian, of Blencogo, near Wigton, says: “Perfection is that the job doesn’t exist but as long as it does we need to do it as well as we can, as cost-effectively as we can and reach as many people as we can.

“In the past year we’ve fed about 6,000 people - about 4,000 adults and 2,000 children. We are in an area where we have a lot of wealth in Sellafield but a lot of low-paid employment in farming and hospitality.

“Part of the foodbank ethos is not just about giving out food and hoping the problems go away but trying to help people. It’s about equality. Food is a basic. Everyone should have it.”

The charity relies on donations to allow it to continue its work, and there are key points in the year when they increase.

Adrian says: “When I started we were close to empty. There was less than four tonnes of food - a month’s worth. But we’ve just had harvest festival and now the warehouse is nearly full thanks to those donations.”

A Christmas appeal is around the corner, but the charity really benefits from people donating regularly. Adrian says: “It’s about keeping it in the public awareness all year round.

“Most people put a tin of food in the box at the supermarket and they never see the smile on the face of the person who gets it in their bag. They never see the thank you. They never hear the person say what a difference it’s made to them. It’s important for people to understand that their tin is part of a collective difference that makes a big different to so many people.”

It is also reliant on its more than 170 volunteers, who Adrian says are the best thing about his job. He says: “They all value what they do. They’re reliant on one another to make it work and they do it with a smile on their faces."

The foodbank was launched in July 2009 as a small organisation. Adrian says: “Now, if we were a business, we’d be classed as quite a big business in north Cumbria.”

The charity has food distribution centres in Workington, Maryport, Cockermouth, Whitehaven, Egremont and Wigton, and warehouses at Cockermouth and Lillyhall.

There are collecting points at the distribution points, and at supermarkets, schools, community centres and churches across the area.

The charity is currently seeking a new volunteer centre manager at Egremont.

Adrian works with assistant project manager Linda McDonald and new schools worker Stuart Christian.

One thing he is keen to expand is the Lunchpacks 4 Kids scheme, which this summer gave out 1,200 bags of food, each providing a week's worth of lunches for about three children. He says: "If you counted up the children who are on free school meals it would come to far more than 1,200 bags.”

There is an opportunity, he said, to encourage more people to take up the scheme, but at the same time the charity would need to be able to attract sufficient donations to meet the extra demand.

Whatever the charity ends up doing, the central focus will remain - lending a helping hand in the hope of making people feel better when they leave than they did when they arrived.

n To find out more about the charity or get involved visit or call 07502311452.