9 May 2017
Guest post by Daniel Nicholls, Corporate Development Officer
This April, FareShare was delighted to welcome Isabel Dimitrov from Cargill, a long-term partner and supporter, to live a day in the life of our volunteers and help us deliver surplus food to charities throughout London. Corporate Development Officer, Daniel Nicholls, joined Isabel. Here he tells us about their day.
After kitting ourselves out in steel toe capped boots and hi-vis vests and running through the health & safety checklist with Shift Leader Rebecca, we started the day picking orders for each charity due to receive food. This included a balanced mix of fresh fruit and vegetables, meats, dairy products and long life tinned goods and pasta. After picking the orders, we helped to load the food onto one of FareShare’s refrigerated delivery vans. Tony, FareShare’s volunteer driver and our guide for the day, meticulously packed the van in order of the delivery route, first in last out. Then, we drove off into the sun-drenched streets of London, ready to deliver good food to good causes.
The Connection @ St Martins – First stop is The Connection at St Martins where our deliveries are turned into meals for homeless people who can also access help with finding employment, addiction issues and specialist mental health teams. FareShare food forms part of this essential and wide-reaching service.
The Soup Kitchen – Really does what it says on the soup tin. It is a resource for people who are homeless, older people, and those who may be lonely or in poverty in Central London and serves around 70 people a day with nutritious meals.
Aslan – A homelessness day centre is our next stop – dealing with physical, mental and spiritual needs of people seeking help. Around 100 breakfasts are served here every day.
Casual Dining Group – Not a charity this time, but an invitation to Casual Dining’s HQ where they devise delicious dishes for our future delectation in their restaurants, which include Bella Italia, La Tasca and Café Rouge. Their team of chefs have a freezer full of fantastic ingredients, which is restocked every so often, and today we are lucky enough to benefit from some king prawns, pasta and other delicacies that will no doubt go down a storm with our Community Food Members.
Holy Cross – Kind folk here at Holy Cross help carry our delivery down the steep stone stairs and food is delivered, ready to be cooked up and served to parishioners in need.
Olallo – The service predominately serves migrants who have a verified history of rough sleeping in the capital. In addition to this, they also support people with TB and those awaiting hospital discharge who have no fixed abode. They provide hot meals, job search, one to one keyworker support and support to those who wish to return to their last settled base or their home country.
The Simon Community – What at first appears to be a house on a terraced street, is actually home to The Simon Community. Behind the red door, a community of volunteers and homeless people live and work together to alleviate the isolation of sleeping rough and foster the skills needed to move towards independent living. They particularly aim to be there for those for whom no other provision exists. On arrival, the gentleman opening the door shouts excitedly “GUYS, FARESHARE IS HERE”, into the house. Our food is welcomed warmly, as indeed, are we.
No Second Night Out – Aims to ensure that those finding themselves sleeping rough for the first time will not have to spend a second night on the streets. This may mean helping them to return to their home area, or reconnecting them with family or support networks. People feel more able to cope or contend with decisions on next steps after a hot meal.
Cranstoun Change @ 28b – Is a community alcohol and drug programme for people over the age of 18 living in Islington who want to reduce and stabilise their alcohol or drug use. Stays may be residential and food plays an important role in recovery and improving the chance of continued abstinence.
At all the charities we visited what really shone through is just how much the FareShare service is appreciated and needed. It makes a huge difference to often small, grass roots charities that struggle on shoestring budgets to carry out fantastic work in their local communities. Money is saved by the voluntary sector, people in need are fed, people are brought together and communities become closer.
Making this happen is the dedication and energy of FareShare’s volunteers who not only work incredibly hard sorting and packing the food, but who also then skilfully and patiently negotiate London’s traffic to make sure FareShare food gets through to feed those in need. As we arrived back at the Deptford Regional Centre, we were both tired and proud to have been a FareShare volunteer for the day and salute those who are, quite literally, driving our mission.