As part of National Volunteers Week, volunteer Eva shares her stories of an unlikely team of volunteers who have become friends.
“On Wednesday nights at the FareShare London depot in Deptford, an unlikely shift of volunteers assembles. People with a background in food: 0. People with a background in logistics: 0. Doctors: 1. People working for regulatory bodies: 2. Postgraduate students: 1. People working in HR: 1.
We are the Wednesday evening shift after-work volunteers who come for a few hours a week to give our time (though I can’t really say our specialist skills, as knowledge of emerging markets, regulation, HR or cancer treatment aren’t exactly in demand!) to FareShare.
We pitch up sometime between 6 and 7.30pm (after-work volunteers can be slightly flaky, for which we often apologise but seldom get better at) and finish by 9pm. In that time, we sort what often seems an astonishingly large amount of food for FareShare’s member charities and community groups.
Mostly, we take lists of food to be delivered to charities the next day, and pack these up ready for delivery in the morning. Some items are easy: there is no mistaking potatoes or rice. For some items, however, we scour the depot searching for that elusive half tray of chocolate brioche or gluten-free biscuits. That’s the thing with FareShare: you never quite know what goodies may be in for each shift. One week it’s wall to wall bananas, the next a fridge full of steak. Once the orders are all packed, we label each one to make sure the morning shift know whose food is whose. All, of course, to the accompaniment of cheesy tunes on the radio.
I also sometimes help out calling our member charities to see what they’d like to order for the coming week. Although roundly mocked by my fellow volunteers for working in the office rather than on the depot floor (we are so mature…) I have come to enjoy it. It helps connect our evenings of picking and sorting food to the end user, the 1,923 projects that FareShare supplies. And really, that’s what it’s all about, and why we keep on coming back.
Since I first came to FareShare on a long-ago Wednesday in March 2004, many volunteers have come and gone. But many have also come and stayed, committed to the great work that FareShare does, and I think, sustained by the camaraderie of a regular shift team. In total, the regular Wednesday shift comes can count over 20 years of volunteering between us so far, with many more to come.”