Volunteer stories: ‘It makes me feel immensely proud to have contributed so much to the local community’
Project Leader, Calum, has given 192 hours to FoodCycle Liverpool, helping it to become a project full of heart. We asked him how it feels to have given so much time, what his most memorable moment has been and what he gets up to when he isn’t being a fantastic FoodCycler?
How does it feel to know you have given 192 hours to making FoodCycle Liverpool happen?
It makes me feel immensely proud to have contributed so much to the local community. We may not be saving the world each week but over the hours I have committed I have seen vast changes in people. When one individual tells you that during the darkest period of their lives FoodCycle offered hope for them, to get out the house, have something to look forward to and provoke them to change their life around – that is priceless.
Why did you first get involved with FoodCycle Liverpool?
Three reasons. Firstly I was new to Liverpool and wanted to spend time doing something positive as opposed to joining a club or gym. Second, I love cooking. Thirdly, I hate waste and especially food waste. I’m that guy who will go straight to the reduced section as I hate the idea of that being thrown away and, I love a bargain.
With those three reasons in mind, I started looking for a soup kitchen online. I decided to help at FoodCycle down to its ease of sign-up and professional approach.
What do you do for FoodCycle each week?
As a Project Leader, I am responsible for the cook going ahead, which involves more than it appears. We have to organise the food the day prior to the cook and ensure someone can collect it and deliver it to the venue. We need to ensure we have enough volunteers for the day. We then are responsible on the day for the cook: setting up, the menu, inductions, management of guests and venue, and then locking up. After this, any leftover food we then deliver to a local refugee centre and write a report. Ready for the next week.
What keeps you going back week after week?
It would 100% be the people who turn up to volunteer and the guests. It’s always such a welcoming atmosphere that makes you feel right at home.
If FoodCycle was a fruit or vegetable, what do you think it would be and why?
Mooli or Dudhi. If you don’t know what these are, neither did I. I think that sums up a lot of my experiences at FoodCycle – you never know what you’re going to get. Whether it be you have two volunteers or a bag of cucumbers to feed 50 people. Solving these issues on the spot with little time and hungry guests always will excite me.
What has been your most memorable moment as a volunteer?
It was a sparse evening in terms of variety of food but we were given plenty of it. The issue was that it was all Dudhi.
We looked online but with little luck did we find an exciting recipe. I think the entire menu had Dudhi in it: Dudhi Soup, Dudhi Curry, Dudhi Chilli, Dudhi Crumble – you name it, it had Dudhi.
I vowed that I would never cook with Dudhi ever again. On that note, if anyone does know any good recipes with it – email FoodCycle Liverpool.
What else do you do when you’re not being a fantastic FoodCycler?
I am currently a student at Loughborough University studying Chemical Engineering. Besides my degree, I like to keep myself busy. In my spare time I enjoy flying, multi-day hiking trips, sailing, paragliding and running. I play football and basketball as well as being a football referee. I always have other projects on too, and I am trying to start a FoodCycle in Loughborough.
What would you say to someone thinking about volunteering for the first time?
I feel people can often come up with reasons not to do something. This is an opportunity to do something different and positive for the community. Just give it a go and if you don’t like it, fair enough, but if you don’t try you’ll never know.
Inspired by Calum’s story? Have a go at volunteering in your local area by signing up here.