Choices Family Support Service is a not-for-profit social enterprise.
‘Our main aim is to provide affordable assistance to families seeking help in their time of need, and support them through various issues, providing them with a sense of security and family.’
Hi, my name’s India. I volunteer with Choices, taking care of the social media and doing bits and pieces of writing- like this blog. I’ve got a degree in Creative Writing and I’m trying to put it to good use. I work from our Laindon Food Bank, which has a warehouse, an office, and some super-comfy sofas.
I’m not in charge- that’s Susanna, our Managing Director. She’s a little lady with big ideas for her organisation, and she keeps us all in line (including herself, most of the time).
Mosh is Susanna’s co-director. He does all the techy webby bits that none of the rest of us understand, and I think he does them well (although it’s difficult to tell when you have no idea what they are!)
Jamie does our accounts, and when I want facts and figures he makes them up for me, and puts them into charts which he then has to explain, and does so with infinite patience, while I pretend to understand.
Ben- well, who knows what to say about Ben? He came in and turned us around, getting everything into some kind of order. We call him a project manager, but just think of his project as all of us!
Mark, Michael and Jemma do our warehousing stuff. Th
ey’re responsible for getting some kind of system up and running for booking goods in and out for our food bank, making up food parcels, and knowing what to do when I run out to them panicking because I’ve accidentally closed a programme or misplaced a form.
Kary and Scott are our interns for Marketing and IT, respectively, from Essex University, and Connor is on a volunteer placement from college.
Larisa’s role comes under administration, but she does a bit of everything, with a good deal more enthusiasm than most people demonstrate in their entire lives!
And then there’s our Chairman. I’ve never met Andrew Baggott, but I’ve heard Susanna on the phone to him, so I can vouch for his existence, and he chairs our organisation, so I like him already.
That’s our team, and that’s what we do individually. But really, it’s what we do- and, even more, what we’re going to do– collectively that I want to tell the world about. At the moment, we run the food bank, Tins & Things, from the warehouse in Laindon. We’ve given over 1,000 meals to local families, since opening in November 2013, and we’re getting more referrals by the day.
We also run a Community Kitchen every Wednesday at the George Hurd Centre, which has been very well-received by users.
In the future, we’re going to run a second, Lottery-Funded Community Kitchen. We’re going to extend our warehouse opening hours and stay open weekends and evenings, to reach as many members of the community as possible. We’re going to buy some land, start a farm, and create our own produce, making our warehouse and kitchens largely self-sufficient, and bringing all of our projects together. We’re going to become a registered City & Guilds Training Centre, and train people up in warehousing and administrative skills.
But not yet. Before we can do all this, we need to raise funds- so many funds- and we need so many more volunteers, and so much more awareness.
Don’t get me wrong, we are a fantastic team. We’re doing a fantastic thing (fantastic things, actually), and we’ve made so much progress already, which is what makes it such an exciting thing to be part of, as a volunteer. But there’s more to do. There’s always going to be more to do, and by writing this, I want to include as many people in our journey as possible.
So what can you do?
Right now, we need food and money donations. You can bring food to our warehouse, at
26 Saffron Court,
donate money online at http://www.choicesfamily.co.uk/donate.php
We also need volunteers to join our dynamic, crazy little team. In return for a few hours of your time, as often as you want, you’ll get a couple of introductory lines and regular mentions on a pretty exciting new blog, a warm fuzzy feeling, some fabulous, life-changing work experience, and the chance to meet some amazing people.
Or, you can just follow the blog. Share our website. Follow our Twitter, or add us on Facebook. We’re always running fundraisers, or volunteer training days, and sharing interesting bits and pieces. Go on, give us a go:
http://www.choicesfamily.co.uk (down at the moment, but will be up and running and bigger and better than ever before long!)
This is us, then. What we do and who we are and what we’re going to do and who we will be. But I’m going to keep this blog going- next week, and the week after. So what is it going to tell you?
I want to tell you what it’s like to be a volunteer for an exciting, up and coming organisation, working for social change.
I want to tell you what it’s like to be a volunteer at all.
I want you to care about Choices. Really, I just want you to know about Choices.
Next week: ‘Hello Again! (My Experience in a Nutshell: I, Not We)
‘I was given a key on my third day of volunteering, after Connor and I turned up to find that the warehouse was locked, and we had to stand outside in the rain.’