They say the most valuable thing you can give is your time – which is certainly true for our volunteer team.
Our Food Redistribution Centre is reliant on dozens of volunteers to help get millions of meals out to communities across Lancashire and Cumbria, feeding people most in need while reducing food waste.
Here we look at the many personal and professional benefits volunteering brings to the men and women who give their time with us:
Volunteering has given Bill a renewed sense of purpose during retirement, while 22-year-old Zack hopes it will help him to find his way in the world of work. And sharing some experiences with both Bill and Zack is Rimma, who has a wealth of work experience but used volunteering to improve her language skills after arriving in the UK as a refugee.
“It’s nice to feel useful – it makes you feel good” – Bill
“Knowing I’m helping people is what keeps me coming in,” says Bill. He started volunteering six months after retiring, having worked in management for housing associations. “It’s nice to get out the house and feel useful. The social side of it is good so you get as much out of it as you put in.”
Bill works in an admin role, overseeing the allocation of goods to member groups, ensuring their wants, needs and dietary requirements are met.
He’s recently returned to the role after a ‘year out’ volunteering with the NHS through the pandemic, helping at Royal Blackburn Hospital: “I was always planning to come back here though. I like the variety in the days and the diverse team. I’m glad I can continue to help others in some way. Volunteering makes you feel good.”
“It’s really given me confidence and I’ve learned new skills” – Zack
22-year-old Zack is completing the Kickstart programme at the Centre, hoping to improve his skills and confidence ready to find work again.
He was made redundant from his job in retail after having to shield during lockdown to prioritise his parents’ health.
“I was worried I’d never get back into work,” he said. “I was applying for any job I could when the Job Centre told me about Kickstart.”
Zack is now on the six-month programme, working 25 hours a week and earning the national minimum wage, while being supported to build his CV and look for full-time roles.
“It’s been a big help coming here,” he added. “It’s really helped me to cope with anxiety and given me confidence. It’s given me routine too and I’ve learned new skills. I like hands-on work so I’m looking for jobs in warehousing or retail now.
“Working here feels good because I know I’m helping the community too.”
“We’re working hard to help communities” – Rimma
Helping others was the most important thing for Rimma, knowing the Food Redistribution Centre’s work helps thousands of people every week.
“When the country was in lockdown we were here working hard to help communities – it was very important to me to be able to help like that,” she said.
“I came to the UK as an asylum seeker. I’ve worked all my life, since I was 20, so I bring experience to volunteering but I wanted to volunteer to improve my language skills – it was very important for me getting a job.. I’d been studying English but that doesn’t give you the same chance to communicate with people. I volunteer here and also with the British Red Cross, as an interpreter in Arabic and Russian.
“We volunteers, we’re here doing a great job and each of us playing our part.”
To volunteer with our Food Redistribution Centre team, contact: [email protected] or 01772 665958