One beneficiary of the Eat Well Live Well programme is Tim, who worked in the RAF as an engineer for 12 years and the NHS for 10 years before circumstances led to him being forced to move and become homeless:
I stayed on friends sofas for four months. It wasn’t easy. Once the favours had run out, I had no choice but to sleep rough. I slept rough for nine months on the steps of the Apollo Theatre at Victoria station. It felt quite safe, there were always people around, and I got on well with the night porters.
Food was by far the most important reason for me to visit the centres. Also, finding a place to have a shower and get clean clothes. Being somewhere warm and getting something good to eat. I got involved with volunteering at FareShare through the Shift Co-ordinator. They knew I was on the street, and they told me FareShare needed some help in delivering food. At first I started giving a hand to help the delivery and collection on a Tuesday. FareShare held a training week for staff and volunteers, and I was asked to stay on by the Operations Manager and give input, because of my experience in the RAF and NHS – especially around health and safety, and also because I was still actively on the street.
Being asked to stay and give my input in the running of the operations was really important to me. Soon after this, I started volunteering a lot more regularly, even while I was still on the street. At FareShare, as part of their volunteer training, they’ve given me basic food hygiene training, and fork lift truck training. Also, I’ve really been able to use some of the skills I used before in previous jobs.
Through his experience at FareShare Tim’s prospects are looking a lot brighter; he now lives in his own accommodation and is working full-time again.
My time at FareShare not only gave me some great work skills and recognised qualifications; more than that, it gave me back my confidence to return to the job market, and re-establish a strong work ethic. At the same time, having been a beneficiary of FareShare food, when I was on the streets, I knew that – by volunteering at FareShare – I was also helping a great cause, getting food to people who were in a situation similar to the one I had been in.
Tim continues to volunteer at FareShare when he can.