Like many others, I was placed on furlough in April as we ceased all in-school activities. As TalentEd’s Insights and Engagement Officer, the majority of my role is collecting, analysing and sharing the impact data we collect from our school programmes. We decided that during lockdown we would relax our normal rigorous impact assessment measures in order to respond quickly.
I wanted to use my free time constructively to help my community, so I started volunteering at my local foodbank. The foodbank is a volunteer-led organisation at Hedgecock Community Centre, which was opened ahead of schedule to respond to the Covid-19 crisis. This appealed to me because before joining TalentEd, I was a caseworker for my MP, and so I am familiar with the local area and those who are most at need.
Many of those involved are experienced volunteers, normally running soup kitchens in their spare time. Three of our volunteers are a family, a mum, a dad, and their six-year-old daughter. Amyrah is our youngest volunteer, she turned up on the first day fully kitted out in a facemask and plastic gloves. She is already interested in helping others whether it be running around to pack a food parcel or making you laugh with a story on a bad day. During a period of isolation, being around people who want to make the world a better place (even at 6 years old) can make your day a little brighter.
The volunteer team at Hedgecock Community Centre foodbank.
The foodbank supports those who cannot leave their house or are struggling financially, providing an important lifeline for those in need. The food is bought from wholesalers using fundraised money. Until recently we ran a delivery-only service to reduce the risk of infection of both staff and recipients. The food deliveries are made weekly, all done by volunteers.
Volunteering at the foodbank has inspired me. It has reminded me that we should always strive to help others during the bad times as well as the good. Seeing all the parcels leave at the end of the day makes me feel a little better knowing that an extra bit of support is on its own way to those that need it. While very different from the day-to-day work we do at TalentEd, the underlying mission of looking out for the poorest and most vulnerable in society is the same.
I am grateful for the time I have spent at the foodbank, it has been a positive distraction from the stresses of lockdown, and gives me renewed energy for my work back at TalentEd!