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.’