Fundraising, and Other Ways of Getting Stuff

Our quiz night is fast coming up! I’m mega excited, because so far, I haven’t been directly involved with any fundraising activities. Since I joined Choices, we’ve had one town centre collection, while I was at work, which didn’t go with very much of a bang. There were other groups collecting in the town that day, and we were all mistaken for one another, meaning none of us came out as an overall winner.

The quiz, on the other hand, will have an overall winner, and is going to be great fun. Tickets are £5 a head, teams of 6, and it’s from 8pm at Club Kingswood, Sparrow’s Herne, on the 16th April. And we’re going to have a brilliant time.

My family and friends are excited, too- or at least, they tell me they are. I get very excited for them to see a bit more of what I do. I brought my mum to the office once, because she bought some stuff to donate, when we went shopping. She loved it, especially when I answered the phone, and we had to make up a food parcel, and drop it off. She thought it was very exciting and I was terribly clever. Of course, she was right. It is very exciting, doing something that has a positive impact on someone’s life, like providing them with food.

She also tried to hoover the office, with a very beaten up little hoover she found in a cupboard, and nearly succeeding in burning the place down. For some reason, I’ve never yet taken her back.

Recently, I was wandering through Basildon Town Centre with my sister, when we popped into Asda, and walked past a trolley full of food donations, with a sign on it saying ‘Support Your Local Food Bank.’ I prepared myself to be indignant, since the other large local food bank is Trussell Trust, and has Tesco exclusively onside- until I noticed the ten foot board behind it with the Choices logo. Thank you to anyone who reads this and put anything into our collection- it’s always gratefully received.

We’ve also got our training weekend coming up,a follow-on from our successful training taster day in March. It’s in Eastgate again, and it’s a great opportunity we’re providing for current and prospective volunteers to learn a bit about what we do, and pick up some skills along the way.

It’s going to be a busy month for us, and hopefully we’ll be able to keep up the momentum with fundraising, donations and public awareness. With our new volunteers fully trained up, we’re aiming to open our Lottery-Funded Community Kitchen very soon indeed, and after that there’ll be no stopping us from doing good things for the community. Watch this space.

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Next week: Our Training Weekend: How It Went

After the rousing success of our Volunteer Taster Training Day, turnout for our weekend was…‘ (I can’t finish this quote because it hasn’t happened yet. Is that cheating? Probably.)

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Hello Again! (My Experience in a Nutshell: I, Not We)

So, given that last week I gave you a super-quick introduction to all of us and everything we ever do, I thought this week we could slow things down a bit. I’ll do my best not to make it the ‘India Show’, but as the blogger, I think I’m probably going to end up making this more and more about my personal involvement with volunteering for Choices. This week, at least.

I started volunteering here in January 2014, and it’s been pretty full-on from the word go. The whole website needed rewriting, to start with, and I took that task home from my interview, and worked on it all week. I also had to give myself a crash course in how to use Twitter, since, as far as Susanna knew, I was already proficient. 

That done, I spent my days Tweeting and Retweeting, before Susanna asked whether I’d be interested in helping her write funding bids (a resounding yes, in case you wondered). This is interesting, although not as much fun as you might think (if you thought it sounded even remotely fun). I can most liken the writing of funding bids to the taking of what, at school, we called a ‘Comprehension’ Test. It’s all about reading the questions properly, and answering what you’re actually being asked, rather than trying to shoehorn what you’d like to say into the boxes. That sounds easy enough, but actually, it can be quite difficult to avoid repeating yourself. Also, it can be quite difficult to avoid repeating yourself.

It hasn’t all been sitting behind a desk, of course, as that would be unbearably dull. There’s also been a good deal of sitting on the sofa, when there haven’t been enough desks to go around. And then there’s been some standing, and some running around, and even some trips to meetings.

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. A shortage of people with keys meant that, because everyone who works here is unpaid, we couldn’t always have someone available to come and unlock for 9am every day. We spent the morning sitting in the reception area of the jolly nice Solicitor’s next door and upstairs, talking about our brothers and sisters. Luckily, we’ve got about twelve between us, so that covered us up until Susanna arrived.

Since then, we’ve extended our opening hours to 8pm on a Monday, which has generally involved me sitting in the reception area playing music, singing to myself, and jumping at loud noises. We’re hoping that, once the later hours are advertised better, we’ll be seeing more clients at these times, since it’s making us the most accessible food bank in the area. People who need food parcels, but work 9-5, or have other commitments during these times, have struggled to reach us, and requested an extension, and we have seen a few people on these late openings, so it’s worth keeping going with.

Now, I volunteer every Monday (so keep an eye out for new posts on these days), and do a little bit of everything, but a big bit of writing. It’s a busy day at the office, since we’ve always got Michael, and usually Jemma and Mark, in the warehouse, Kary in the back office, Ben or Susanna at the desk, and various others popping in and out. I’m not so involved in food parcels, since we have such a big warehouse team, and my most important role is that of Chief Teamaker (although the others take turns when it’s quiet- Mark just stitched himself right up, making a round of seven because he asked at the wrong time!)

I work part-time in a shop, as well, because I still need to live off of something. It’s the job I’ve had since I was sixteen, and I love it as much as you can love scanning things, but I come away from one day at Choices feeling like I’ve made more difference than five in a row as a salesgirl. 

Next Week: ‘Fundraising, and Other Ways of Getting Stuff.’

I brought my mum to the office once, because she got some stuff to donate, when we went shopping. She loved it, especially when I answered the phone, and we had to make up a food parcel, and drop it off. She thought it was very exciting and I was terribly clever. Of course, she was right.’