“You feel most valuable when you’re giving something back.”
Volunteers are at the heart of everything that’s achieved at FareShare Greater Manchester. From driving vans to allocating food, data analysis and relentless fundraising, volunteers give their time and commitment in all weathers, 6 days a week, all year round. In fact, the time given by FareShare GM volunteers is the equivalent of 10 full-time staff. The commitment shown by FareShare GM volunteers recently secured them the Best Volunteer Team award at this year’s Spirit of Manchester Awards.
Every volunteer has a different reason to take part. Accordingly, here’s one story from a recent recruit…
A story for International Volunteer Day
When Tom Shephard (44) attended a community outreach event in Openshaw, Manchester and stopped to chat to EMERGE staff, he was immediately keen on the work we do. As an electronic engineer with a strong sustainability ethos, Tom has a long-standing interest in environmentally-focused initiatives and waste reduction. Prior to moving to Manchester he was the technical lead on cutting edge research project. It investigates the replacement of fossil fuel for marine vessels.
Once the project came to a close, Tom relocated and began volunteering in his local community. He discovered that he had an interest in food waste. As soon as he hears about FareShare GM’s work, he recognises that the charity would be a very good fit. Subsequently, Tom begins volunteering at the end of October.
Since that time, Tom has undertaken a variety of tasks in the FareShare GM warehouse; starting with picking and packing orders, and then venturing out and about on the vans, making deliveries to many of the Community Food Members FareShare GM supports.
The accomplishment he is most proud of so far has been passing his recent driving test. It assesses his ability to take the delivery vans out on the road. He says this isn’t the sort of role he ever would imagine doing due to anxiety which affects his confidence. But he feels comfortable and encouraged within the FareShare team so put himself forward.
An Appreciation for how we do things
Here on International Volunteer Day, Tom adds that he’s very impressed by the way FareShare operates. Especially with regard to what he calls its ‘gentle approach to volunteers’. He adds that he has found “a good ethos at the heart of the organisation, where people support one another.” This has been especially beneficial for Tom in meeting challenges the role presents, such as working at speed in the warehouse. His anxiety can sometimes block his ability to perform even simple tasks. Accordingly, he says that the “relaxation and supportive atmosphere” definitely helps him.
He’s also happy to rediscover the positives of working within a team on something worthwhile. In short, it helps build his confidence and, in turn, better enables him to support others. He feels sure that helping those in need in his community has contributed significantly to his own sense of self-worth. “You feel most valuable when you’re giving something back” he says.
His advice to anyone thinking about volunteering with FareShare Greater Manchester is to stop by and have a go. “It’s far less scary than you might think it is” he says. “If you’ve been burned by bad experiences and cut off from society, this will help.”
“I can tell that EMERGE and FareShare Greater Manchester have a great ethos that runs through the whole organisation. It’s lovely to know that this is here, and there’s a genuine hope for me that this will remain part of my life. I feel that this is a family, and not one I want to lose.”