Volunteer stories: ‘I’ve met the most incredible fellow volunteers’
Project Leader, Vib, has given over 250 hours to making FoodCycle Cambridge the thriving project it is. We asked her how it feels to have given so much time, what her most memorable moment has been and what she gets up to when she isn’t being a fantastic FoodCycler?
How does it feel to know you have given over 250 hours to making FoodCycle Cambridge happen?
It feels pretty amazing! I’m so proud of what we achieve in our project, and those 250 hours have zipped by. People often think of Cambridge as a very affluent place, but a recent article highlighted that it is the UK’s most unequal city; we meet many of the people who don’t benefit from Cambridge’s affluence and to think that we’re doing something to even marginally close the gap is so brilliant.
Why did you first get involved with FoodCycle Cambridge?
Some friends had heard about it so a group of us went along together, all motivated by a love of cooking. From that first session, I was hooked! I think the cooking leader was Alex Collis, who’s now our Regional Manager, and we’ve bonded since then thanks to pastry lettering, serving pudding in cups & saucers, building forts out of egg boxes, and maybe a few post-cooking G&Ts!
What do you most enjoy about volunteering with FoodCycle?
The people – I’ve met the most incredible fellow volunteers and project leaders, and of course such wonderful guests. I love that every session is unique because you rarely repeat the same combination of volunteers and guests, and we have so much fun! Plus, there’s the chance to meet amazing FoodCycle volunteers from other projects via the conferences and mid-year meetings. I’ve also become so much more inventive as a cook; you learn a lot when you’re trying to figure out what to do with 11kg of Brussels sprouts for the fourth week in a row…
What has been your most memorable moment?
Our Easter Saturday lunch this year, because of what happened after the meal. It was the same day as the funeral of Professor Stephen Hawking, who had been such an important resident of the city for most of his life. His family made a quiet donation so that we could put on a particularly special meal for our guests “on Stephen”, because they knew that he’d have loved the idea that he was helping out people who might have had a tough time. We were able to decorate the dining hall and get some extra treats, plus we had a little cheer before the meal was served. We put out one tweet to thank the Hawking family and before we knew it, we’d made the international news! It was testament both to how much people liked and respected Professor Hawking, and how important the community aspect of FoodCycle is.
If FoodCycle was a fruit or vegetable, what do you think it would be and why?
A potato! Potatoes are so versatile; everyone loves them, but not necessarily in the same way: mash, boiled, chips, roasties, crisps… In the same way, the communities built up around FoodCycle are diverse and interesting and each person will have come to us for a different reason, whether as a guest, volunteer or supporter.
What else do you do when you’re not being a fantastic FoodCycler?
I work for the University of Cambridge, utilising my Ph.D. in biochemistry to support researchers in the biological sciences with applying their discoveries in real-world contexts. This can often involve things with the agritech and farming world, so there have often been some interesting overlaps in contacts with FoodCycle! I’m a member of a book club, am an avid cinema-goer, I try to get to the theatre as much as I can, I love to bake, and recently I ran a half-marathon for the first time.
What would you say to anyone who is looking to do some volunteering for the first time?
Do it! Becoming a volunteer will enhance your life in ways you didn’t even know was possible; I can honestly say that becoming a FoodCycle volunteer has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Fancy volunteering at your local FoodCycle project? Sign up here.