In 2023, Abs joined the FoodCycle Walthamstow team, describing himself as a driven individual with a passion for making a positive impact. Having lived in Waltham Forest for seven years since graduating with a Civil Engineering degree, he’s actively engaged with the community, dedicating his time to various charitable endeavours, including supporting the Library Service, volunteering as a landscaper in Lloyd Park, and serving food to the homeless in central London, in addition to FoodCycle.
As a Civil Engineer, he has a passion for creating a sustainable future in both the built environment and society as a whole – which makes FoodCycle a cause close to his heart. He believes with mental health issues on the rise and the cost-of-living crisis impacting so many people in his local area, FoodCycle is perfectly placed to support communities that are struggling through this tough time and he’s delighted that he can play his part and contribute in a small way.
So Abs, tell us why you’re so passionate about volunteering?
Giving back to the community has always been important to me, and I am grateful for the opportunity to make a positive impact in the lives of others. I believe that volunteering is not only a way to help those in need but also to grow personally and develop new skills. I am excited to continue my volunteering journey and see where it takes me next.
How did you discover FoodCycle?
I discovered FoodCycle through a fellow volunteer at the Walthamstow library service. They described FoodCycle as an amazing group of people who deliver a valuable weekly service to the community. After checking out the FoodCycle website, I signed up, and the rest is history!
Tell us about your first day at FoodCycle?
Before starting my first shift, I completed online training that was extremely helpful and informative. When I arrived for my first shift, I was welcomed by Pearl, who is the Project Leader in Walthamstow FoodCycle. Pearl introduced me to the team and explained everything about the session. As a member of the Hosting Team, I was allocated to serve food and socialise with guests. When we opened the doors and welcomed the first people into FoodCycle, I loved my first shift and have been back every week since! People always say that I never stop smiling when I’m there – this is because I feel that I am really making a difference to people’s lives in our community.
Tell us about your favourite FoodCycle meals?
Every week, the kitchen team creates amazing meals that are healthy, tasty, and packed with nutrients. There is always a three-course meal – a starter, main, and dessert. Since everything is so good, it’s hard to pick a favourite meal. However, I particularly love the dishes that are created with items from the allotment next door. The allotment provides fresh ingredients such as rhubarb and berries, and they are fresh from the ground and on a plate in a few short hours, which is amazing! You can really taste the difference with these fresh ingredients – the rhubarb crumble is a particular favourite of mine!
Tell us about your volunteering role at FoodCycle?
As a member of the Hosting Team, I complete all the ‘front of house’ activities such as getting the space ready for visitors and ensuring that the guests’ needs are catered for. After serving the guests food, I often grab a bite to eat myself and sit and converse with the guests for a while. Many of our guests are elderly, disabled, or have mental health challenges, and this often leads to them having limited interactions with other people. FoodCycle offers an opportunity for people to socialise with others and alleviates loneliness for our guests. As the meal is coming to an end, I pack the remaining food items into bags and provide one to each of our guests to take with them.
What is your favourite thing about volunteering at FoodCycle?
My favourite thing about volunteering at FoodCycle is the sense of fulfilment that I get from contributing to society and doing something good for the environment. Repurposing excess and waste food into a valuable resource that communities need is an incredible achievement, and it’s something that all FoodCycle volunteers should be proud of. In addition, I enjoy engaging with people in our community and find that a conversation is powerful in lifting up others. While I used to do a lot of charity fundraising, I realised recently that the most valuable thing I can give to my community is my time, and FoodCycle provides the perfect opportunity to spend meaningful time with people who need and value my help.
Tell us any ways that working with FoodCycle has changed you and has it helped you to feel part of your community?
Working with FoodCycle has changed my perspective of the world. It has given me the opportunity to work alongside people that I would never be exposed to in my ‘normal’ life, and this has opened my eyes to how everyone is dealing with their own personal struggles. FoodCycle is a safe space with a welcoming, inclusive, and non-judgmental environment that provides an opportunity for someone like me to give back to those who need a bit more support. I don’t think I’ve changed as a person, but volunteering at FoodCycle has helped me feel more connected to my community. It’s a grounding experience that is nourishing for both volunteers and guests, regardless of their situation or background.
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