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Volunteer stories: ‘it’s a great feeling to see the joy on the faces”

Andy is a Project Leader at FoodCycle Cricklewood and has been a volunteer for over 10 months. We asked him why he joined FoodCycle as a volunteer, what being a Project Leader entails and what he has gained from his volunteering role. Read on to learn more! 

How did you hear about us?

I’d heard great things about FoodCycle when I was at university but I was too busy back then to really engage with it. However, when I moved to London and was looking for some volunteering opportunities online, it was one of the first results that came up so I leapt at the opportunity!

Why did you get involved?

To put it simply, I wanted to apply my skills for the benefit of the local community/society. As a charity that helps to eliminate food waste and alleviate social isolation, FoodCycle presented the opportunity for me to do this on a regular basis and in the areas that I care about so it was a perfect match!

What do you do for FoodCycle each week? Why do you enjoy it? 

I’m a Project Leader for FoodCycle Cricklewood, which means that I’m involved in organising the volunteering sessions and coordinating the volunteers.

The thing that I enjoy most about it is the sense of gratitude from those we help out. The Cricklewood Project is based in a community resource centre and in particular, provides housing to those in need of it in the local area. As such, it’s a great feeling to see the joy on the faces of the centre residents when they enjoy our hot meals.

Besides picking up some neat cooking tips and tricks, the skills that I’ve developed the most is the ability to plan appropriately and lead teams. As a project leader, the responsibility to make sure that sessions go well is on my shoulders. This means knowing what the plan for the session is (i.e. tracking tasks for the meals to be made, the delegation of responsibilities, time-keeping) and being able to adapt on-the-fly when unexpected events arise.

What skills have you / can you / are you planning to offer to help FoodCycle?

In the context of a volunteering session, what I think I offer is my charisma. I focus on keeping everyone motivated and maintain the conversation flowing to ensure that everyone is having a good time.

Outside of the volunteering sessions, due to the nature of my full-time job, my strengths lie in data analysis and big-picture thinking. I’m able to crunch data effectively to find key insights and consider what the implications are in terms of the wider context.

What do you do when you’re not volunteering?

Outside of being a volunteer, I like to keep active. I lift weights frequently, I try to go to spin class every weekend and at the moment, I’m learning to swim.

Other than that, I’m always trying to learn new things. The latest things are languages; Vietnamese and JavaScript to be precise.

Say to someone considering volunteering?

Give it a go! As with a lot of things in life, the first step is always the hardest.

I myself had a quite few reservations about being a volunteer when I first went but the great thing about FoodCycle is that there’s a great sense of cohesion amongst the volunteers. Everyone is always so friendly and passionate about helping others, and that makes volunteering a fun experience.

Sum up FoodCycle in a few words?

Food. Fun. Friendliness.

Inspired by Andy’s story? Have a go at volunteering in your local area by signing up here.

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