Beth got invited to go along to her nearest FoodCycle meal with friends she met at her local library. Beth had such a great experience that she returned the following week to attend the meal again. The food was great, but what stood out to Beth was the overall sense of community and belonging she found at FoodCycle. During her visits, she learned more about the charity and the heart of the operations – the volunteers.
Driven by the generosity of the volunteers, Beth decided to try her hand at volunteering at FoodCycle. She joined the Check-in and Chat service and has now been volunteering since March 2023. Volunteering has not only given Beth the opportunity to give back to her local community but also helped her gain a renewed sense of purpose.
How did you discover FoodCycle?
My dad passed away last year so I decided to get involved in volunteering to distract myself. I started going to my local library and one evening I was invited to go to a local community meal with friends I’d made at the library. I had never been to a community meal before but thought “why not go and try it out?”.
The meal was at FoodCycle Weoley Castle and it was such a lovely experience that I went back for another meal!
Tell us about your first day at FoodCycle?
I was pleasantly surprised by the experience as a guest. I felt welcomed by all involved in the project. It also made me feel I was doing something to help combat food waste too.
A few meals later, I realised I really wanted to help give back as a volunteer too so I asked the Project Leader how I could get involved in voluntary work and the process of how to get started.
Tell us about your favourite FoodCycle meals?
I really enjoy the bruschetta with finely chopped onions and tomatoes on toasted bread and the cauliflower and cheese casseroles!
I’m always amazed what the Cooking Volunteers can do with the ingredients they have to work with and will try everything once.
Tell us about your volunteering role(s) at FoodCycle?
I am primarily a Check in and Chat volunteer but have offered my services to help with the occasional pot wash at my local FoodCycle Project. The in person volunteer slots can fill up rather quickly at the meals so by making weekly calls to guests I feel like I’m always able to do something virtually that fits around my schedule.
Every week, I get assigned 3 to 4 people who have signed up to receive a befriending call. Before getting assigned calls, volunteers attend a mandatory online safeguarding training session. If there are any difficult calls, I can signpost people to resources including FoodCycle’s community meals, their Head Office number or the Check-in and Chat Manager but that rarely happens.
My first Check-in and Chat call went well. The person I spoke to seemed genuinely pleased to get a phone call. It made me feel I made a difference to someone’s day. It sure made a positive difference to mine!
Tell us what you’ve learned volunteering with FoodCycle?
People need nourishment through contact with others whether it be in person or over the phone. Also, it’s ok to be nourished as both a guest and volunteer at FoodCycle!
Your mental health is hugely important no matter your economic status.
Tell us any ways volunteering with FoodCycle has changed you?
The regular interaction with people, helping them smile or ease their loneliness, gave me a sense of fulfilment. I think it has given me a renewed sense of purpose. Volunteering benefits both individuals and the community; it provides people with an opportunity to contribute to something meaningful while building a sense of belonging and camaraderie.
I love talking to people and learning from their life experiences. I’ve also learned to enjoy eating crumble!
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