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Volunteer stories: An interview with a FoodCycle Project Leader

Ever wondered what it’s like to be a FoodCycle Project Leader? Well… now is your chance. We spoke to lovely volunteer Maria, 21, who has been the PR, Marketing and Communications Leader at FoodCycle Finsbury Park for just over a year. She tells us how she got into volunteering, what she does each week and what she enjoys most about leading a team of volunteers.

How did you hear about FoodCycle?

Through my friend. She was actually the PR leader at the Finsbury Park project before I was, and recommended that I take it on when she left London!

Why did you get involved?

I feel that FoodCycle is tackling two birds with one stone. First of all, the food waste element was a big appeal to me. I have worked in hospitality on and off, and you see so much food being thrown away. I hated all that waste and wanted to do something to challenge this. Secondly, the other aspect that appealed to me was helping to tackle social isolation. As soon as you step into a FoodCycle project, you get a real community feel. Guests come in and you get the chance to have a nice chat with them. It’s interesting how food is such a good way of bringing people together- people can always bond over food!

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

Well as I am doing a comms role, I try to post as much as possible on Instagram, Facebook etc to keep people engaged. I really enjoy spreading the word; not only about the food that cooked each week, but the work that FoodCycle does as a whole.

I don’t volunteer at the sessions each week, but around once a month. At Finsbury Park we tend to have three Project Leaders, who lead on either the starter, main or dessert. I think it’s important for Project Leaders to be there to not only keep things on track, but also ensure that both volunteers and guests feel welcome and relaxed.

Finsbury Park Social Media Snap

What’s your favourite cuisine

I love Thai food, especially Thai green curry! I would like to make it more at FoodCycle, but we can of course only go by what food we are donated on the day.

What do you do when you’re not volunteering?

 I am studying an Arts and Science degree at UCL and trying to keep on top of my deadlines! I do try and make the most of London, but it’s an expensive place. FoodCycle is a great thing for students to do, as many of us are on a very low budget. It’s a great way of meeting people in your community, and making friends for free!

Say to someone considering becoming a volunteer Project Leader?

 Definitely do it! You’ll be offered the chance to take responsibility and lead on things you perhaps have never been involved in. You’ll also learn new skills; I’ve learnt a lot about fundraising for example. You’ll also learn how to lead a group of people that you don’t know! It’s helped me to become a more organised person.

The training FoodCycle offers is also really useful, and the annual conference is a great way of meeting Project Leaders from elsewhere in England.

Lastly, it’s interesting getting to know and work together with the other Project Leaders, everyone’s quite different and bring their own skills and ideas.

Finally, sum up FoodCycle in two words

Creative and fun!

Has Maria managed to whet you appetite? Click here to see  all of our Project Leader opportunities.

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