Last week I had the opportunity to visit the Woolwich Common Community Centre to see the emergency box scheme in operation and speak to some of the amazing volunteers.
Every Monday a huge delivery of 16 pallets of fresh and dried food arrives which the volunteers unpack and organise. The food is then made up into boxes which are delivered to those who need them throughout the borough.
A spreadsheet on the wall indicated that the programme had so far delivered over 1500 food boxes since the start of the quarantine.
I was interested to hear from the volunteers about the work and why they chose to spend their time here.
I spoke to Neil who had been volunteering his time here for 4 weeks. He said that he volunteered because he felt it was important for the community to come together to help each other out during this difficult time.
His previous work was as an engineer in packaging logistics and production lines. He had clearly applied his expertise well judging on how smoothly the operation was running.
Next I met Chris who is a Greenwich Counsellor who had been volunteering for one week. He explained that he had recently been furloughed from his job and with a smile added that he “was looking for an alternative to being at home playing with my cat!”
He said he enjoyed helping people and was encouraged by how many people were offering to volunteer during this time of need. He reflected that it was also good for his mental health to get out of the house and be doing something productive.
Finally I met a mother and daughter combo who were sorting fresh vegetables into boxes. Alison, the mother works part time as a solicitor and helps out at the box scheme on her days off. She said it was nice to get out of the house and enjoy some human interaction during the quarantine and that it was fulfilling to see how much the box scheme helped people.
Her daughter Anna said she had found it boring being at home all the time, something I’m sure many of us can relate to, and that coming into volunteer broke up the day. Normally she worked for a beer specialist in central London so she was happy to carry stock and was willing to do hard work.
Speaking to the volunteers reminded me that in volunteering everyone is a winner. The recipients of the deliveries benefit enormously as the box scheme ensures they have enough food to eat delivered straight to their doors.
The volunteers also benefit from the work. They enjoy the social contact, getting out of the house and the feel good factor which comes with helping others. They all said they felt better because of it and it was good for their mental health.
It was a pleasure to see the box scheme production line in action and meet some of the volunteers. A huge thank you to everyone who has helped out in the quest to get food to everyone who needs it in the borough.