How many of us have every expressed an interest in volunteering for some form of charitable cause? How many of us actually do anything about it?
Apart from a brief stint volunteering at Oxfam as part of my Duke of Edinburgh Award (a million years ago), my record was pretty pathetic, So, in a bid to pre-empt the whole ‘new year, new me’ initiatives that January inevitably encourages, in December I decided to do something about it.
Instead of sending the standard box of luxury chocolates to our valued clients, Pitch chose this Christmas to do things a little differently. With UK food poverty now regarded as a public health emergency, we instead decided to send our clients a pre paid, pre labelled box ready to be filled with the items local food banks were in desperate need of. For every client food parcel sent, Pitch also matched the donation.
‘Very good’, ‘how admirable’, I hear you say. But, whilst this would have undoubtedly assisted in the growing battle against food poverty from a temporary perspective, how could we get below the surface of the issue to experience the work these fantastic food charities carry out? Why with volunteering of course.
Using surplus food, FoodCycle support hungry and lonely individuals and families throughout the country by providing delicious three course meals and a food parcel to every guest. Their ability to serve over 1,400 people a week is only made possible by their growing number of fantastic volunteers and we wanted to get involved.
Arriving at the Birmingham, Longbridge Methodist, I am not quite sure what I was expecting. I can tell you, however, the friendly, relaxed, yet buzzing atmosphere we were greeted with was a complete surprise. Many volunteer on a very regular basis and, led by wonderful Project Leader Sue and with assistance from the enigmatic Regional Manager, Justin, the FoodCycle team feel far more like a family.
Preparing each of the three course meals from scratch, volunteers had not only collected and delivered fresh produce from supermarkets and worked tirelessly to produce a beautiful meal, but also served, washed and tidied up the premises. Almost more importantly, though, volunteers take the time to sit, chat and listen to the guests - the importance of which should not be underestimated.
Some guests are homeless, some have fallen on harder times and some are simply victims of the current climate - they work incredibly hard to provide for their families but simply do not have enough income to adequately feed them. Frankly, It was heartbreaking to witness but instead of bawling their eyes out in the car park at the unfairness of the situation (what kind of person would do that - insert face palm emoji), the FoodCycle team are incredibly positive at all times. They work hard, they laugh, they have banter and they endeavour to add some cheer to the lives of each and every visiting individual who is in such desperate need of it. If this is not an ethos by which to live your life, I do not know what is.
If you are interesting in volunteering, please visit https://volunteer.foodcycle.org.uk/