Phil, 58, retired a few years ago when he lost most of his eyesight from having severe thrombosis. When his partner Diane first suggested coming to a FoodCycle meal earlier this year, he wasn’t sure because of his means, but he has quickly become a regular at FoodCycle Portsmouth and FoodCycle Havant.
What brought you to FoodCycle?
My partner Diane found out about it, I was a little embarrassed at first actually, I had no idea what it was about or what it was like and, when she told me about it, I queried the idea of a free meal as I didn’t think it was right. Anyway, we went along, and it was a lovely meal. I do have money, not much, but I wanted to give a donation and they said no, it’s a free service and you’re helping to save food. I was inspired by that and now I take down bits of food to help them to cook. Since then, whenever I found someone who is short of cash and does need to eat have asked them to come along with us. Not everyone says yes but we keep spreading the word!
Do you find you have connected to other members of the community?
Yes. Diane and I have tried to help a few people who have come to the meals. We’ve got talking with a few people and we’ve tried to help those that are in difficult situations. I definitely get something out of it. I suffer from depression and anxiety myself, I’ve been like that for years now, and it is nice to have something to do regular to go to talk to people and hear their stories and talk about the weather and things like that. In terms of having a regular something to eat, to be honest I see it as getting a healthy meal. I look forward to it every week – I look forward to Wednesday and to Thursday every week. I got chatting to someone last week and we were swapping stories about our experiences, and it feels good to be able to discuss things and not feel alone so it’s a very good thing.
Any of your favourites from the FoodCycle menu?
Well, you know, I never thought I’d enjoy Quorn! I know the meals have got to be vegetarian so that everyone eats them, but they also introduce me to things I’ve never had before. Meals often include ingredients I wouldn’t usually choose to eat, but they are really good and really healthy. I always empty my plate.
What would you say to someone who was thinking of coming?
Go through the door then go and talk to somebody. It’s so worth it. Just go along because you’re going to get so much out of it. Whether you arrive feeling down or feeling happy, there are people there who will make you smile. Even if you come alone, someone will always sit next to you. Everyone is looked after.
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