6 Jun 2020
Manor Gardens has been very lucky during Covid-19 to find some wonderful volunteers living locally who have had the extra time to support our new endeavours. In particular, we've brought in several hard-working volunteers to pick and pack all of our food parcels every week - back-breaking work!
As part of our celebrations for Volunteers Week 2020 we've asked Gaby, who has packed food parcels every week, to tell us her story.
'I am currently volunteering for Manor Gardens Welfare Trust, a fantastic local community centre that provides a wide range of services with the aim of promoting wellbeing and social inclusion. I initially started as a volunteer receptionist and telephone befriender but as the COVID-19 pandemic has progressed I have been involved in the emergency food distribution hub. I volunteer for one full day a week as part of a very small team of staff and volunteers to pick, pack and label vital food supplies. Each week up to 200 of these parcels are then delivered by volunteer drivers across the borough to families and individuals.'
What got you into volunteering?
'I'd been wanting to volunteer for a while as a way of giving back to the community and making a positive impact in my area but was struggling to find the right position. I've lived in my flat just around the corner from Manor Gardens for seven years now and I love the local area but despite being so close I had no idea of all the great work that was happening on my doorstep! I had a look online and then popped in to the centre one day to have a chat about the different programmes they run and figure out where I could add value and have been able to volunteer on a regular basis since then.'
What are your favourite parts of the role?
'Witnessing how rapidly the centre staff have mobilsed to get the emergency food distribution hub (in addition to moving their client-facing work to online and telephone support) has been really impressive. Each week we are now able to seamlessly distribute 1000s of kilograms of food in hundreds of parcels to vulnerable people in the area, which is no mean feat! I feel very proud to be part of this process, knowing that this vital service is really making a difference for so many people who otherwise would be stuck at home with no access to fresh food and provisions.'
Do you have any tips for people who would like to start volunteering?
'Just get out there and do it! There are so many different volunteering opportunities it can be a bit daunting when you initially start searching for a position. It's quite helpful to start by thinking about what kind of issues are important to you and what skills or expertise you could offer an organisation and base your search on this. Then if you are still unsure whether a role is right for you, just get in touch with the organisation and see if you can have a chat with their volunteer manager or a staff member so you can get more of a flavour for what the role entails. It is so rewarding to be part of an organisation that is having such a positive effect on the local community and I've got so much out of it.'
Our thanks also to Ryan, Alex, Matt and Beth and our team of volunteer drivers.