I found out about Hope for Food at the end of January earlier this year, as I wanted to get involved in a charity supporting people on the streets and in need. Over Christmas I noticed more and more people in Bournemouth and Poole sleeping rough or asking for spare change, and I felt that it was time to be proactive and to get together with other people who are trying to help the situation. I also remember that, at that time, there was so much negativity in the media about certain political leaders, which seemed to created a sense of helplessness among my friends, family and colleagues. In my own way I wanted to fight against that, so instead of spending my time worrying about the government and world politics, I tried to find a charity that was making a difference to people in my local community.
After reading about Claire Matthew’s story of how and why she founded Hope for Food, I emailed the charity to inquire about weekly volunteering opportunities at their soup kitchens at St Andrew’s Church in Bournemouth. The process was quick and easy, and within one week I had visited the Tuesday night kitchen and signed up as an official volunteer. I now volunteer once a week, helping to serve tea and coffee, collecting rubbish and generally providing an extra pair of hands for serving the 80 or so people who come to the soup kitchen. The atmosphere is lively and dynamic, and there is a really positive vibe between volunteers and attendees. One week I also made 40 sandwiches – a good challenge, and one that was made much easier by my colleagues at work donating bread and sandwich fillings!
Volunteering for Hope for Food has broadened my understanding of homelessness and poverty, and after every soup kitchen I feel good about helping people who, for whatever reason, struggle in today’s economic climate. I’ve also learnt a lot about the logistics of organising volunteers and communicating with food banks, which I hope will be useful for any future projects I’m involved in. I think in today’s world it’s hard to feel capable of making a real difference, but by getting involved in a local charity, it’s easier to regain faith in the kindness and effectiveness of humanity.