Colchester Foodbank CEO Michael Beckett is stepping down.
Michael Beckett, CEO of Colchester Foodbank, is moving on to new challenges after nearly 7 years growing the charity financially, geographically and in volunteer numbers to meet increased demand. He will be succeeded by Armin Lange and Nikki Ranson as a job share. Michael leaves at the end March. The change is effective from mid-February.
Rev. Andrew Fordyce MBE, who was chair during virtually all of Mike’s time as CEO, commented: “I was delighted when Michael first started to volunteer at the Foodbank and then I was dazzled by his CV. Over time Michael has brought huge expertise and experience of the third sector to bear on Colchester Foodbank. He has been a kind and compassionate presence through huge change and was absolutely unblinking in the face of the COVID crisis. I know he has been keen for the whole charity to be lifted up in the lifting up of others from food poverty and the Kings Award seems a fitting tribute. I wish Michael every blessing in his next steps. It was a great blessing to work alongside him.”
Michael has steered Colchester Foodbank through enormous growth and change over the past 7 years: expanding volunteer numbers by 850%, increasing income over 1,000% and building reserves over 3,000%. Also, adding 800% more warehouse space, to underpin an over 400% increase of clients in crisis helped, and equipping Colchester Foodbank to lead a consortium that secured significant DEFRA funding during the pandemic for foodbanks across Essex.
Michael won the Institute of Directors East of England Chair’s Director of the Year Award 2021 and the Foodbank itself has won several awards on his watch: Charities Against Fraud Award, 2018 small charity category; Colchester Council’s Community Recognition Award 2021 and 2020; the 2022 Living Wage Third Sector Champion Award and, as a crowning achievement, Colchester Foodbank’s volunteers won 2023 King’s Award for Voluntary Service. For Michael, this last was by far the most meaningful. He has worked alongside hundreds of volunteers, as well as paid staff, during his time at Colchester Foodbank and says of them, “It has been an honour and a privilege to work as part of such a dedicated, skilled, hardworking team of extraordinary and generous people. To see them recognised and rewarded for their excellence is incredibly satisfying.
“Of course, my dream scenario would be to leave because the Foodbank needed to close due to lack of demand. It is a dream I will never stop dreaming. But perhaps the second best is to leave the charity in a strong position financially, geographically and most importantly, with a strong team to steer it forward. I am proud of all we have accomplished together for local people in crisis. As a community organiser at heart, I believe in the principle of disorganising and reorganising so that leadership fits the context as it changes. It is my hope that the team following after me will bring new insight and energy and enable Colchester Foodbank to go from strength to strength in the fight against poverty.”
Peter Tibber, Chair of Colchester Foodbank said: “Mike has had a transformational impact on the Foodbank. We are hugely grateful for everything he has achieved. The Foodbank is now well positioned to meet the needs of the sadly growing numbers of those in food poverty”.
Co-Patron Sir Bob Russell, who is High Steward of Colchester, said: “Michael Beckett has been an amazing and inspirational leader for the Food Bank over the past seven years. His enthusiasm is boundless. Thanks to him, thousands of people have been helped in the most difficult of times.
“His leadership talents have made Colchester Food Bank one of the busiest in the Eastern Counties. It is very sad that he is leaving, but he leaves the organisation as the strongest it has been since it was formed a dozen or so years ago. I wish him all the best in whichever direction he takes. I am confident he will be successful in the next chapter of his life as he has been with the Food Bank.”