We caught up with Claire who volunteers for Feeding Families in Gateshead Tyne and Wear. Claire was feeling a little under the weather, but she didn’t let it dampen her enthusiasm for volunteering and hyper realistic cake baking shows! I knew from the offset exactly why she was such a respected and valued member of the team over at Feeding Families.
An honorary Geordie, but originally from North Wales; Claire has been volunteering at Feeding Families for a few months now, she stumbled across the organisation when looking for something to do where she could make a difference. Recalling that time she describes needing a change; like many others the pandemic impacted her mental health and as a result she re-evaluated what was important to her. Claire was motivated to volunteer as she wanted to dedicate her time to helping others, she wanted to make a difference, and then…. she found Feeding Families and it all fell into place.
Feeding Families started in 2017 distributing food hampers at Christmas to families in desperate need over the festive period. Demand for their service quickly grew as the cost of living soared. Feeding Families continues to grow to meet this demand. Currently their dedicated team of volunteers collect and pack food, sort donations and distribute over 1000 emergency food parcels every single month to people in need across the community in North East of England.
The organisation was a perfect match for her values and her motivations.
“You know what, i wish I’d found them sooner, it has actually been life changing for me”
Claire volunteers at their packing centre at Blaydon, she dedicates time every week working alongside a team of others to package up essential items that are donated to those in need, including elderly people returning from the hospital, homeless people and families experiencing poverty.
“I found straight away with Feeding Families that I could volunteer to help those most in need”
Claire describes that by helping with the emergency food packages she could see the benefit immediately. Claire spoke with such fondness at being part of the Feeding Families Team, she felt part of something that was making a real difference to people who were facing difficult times.
She laughed as she told me the story of her and some others counting donations from collection boxes. "We frequently lost count but got there in the end". It was so inspiring to hear her talk about the community effort and the people and organisations who support the Feeding Families' cause “It's a real team effort that inspires hope and kindness“.
She recently took on additional volunteering with Feeding Families; supporting the charity further by rallying around gathering donations from local businesses and food suppliers. Claire has been successful in securing regular donations such as rice and pasta which get delivered every month to the packing hub and make their way into emergency food parcels.
“I feel so grateful to those places who support the charities cause, it feels like a real community effort”
Claire describes that volunteering has made her stronger, “it benefit’s anyone’s mental health and wellbeing”, she also highlights that her physical health has improved; lifting and shifting items at the packing centre she chuckles “I’m no Geoff Capes, I’m a tiny borrower of a human and those crates of pasta are heavier than you think they’d be, you know!’
Reflecting on her experiences of Feeding Families “volunteering has been such a benefit to me, it’s shone a spotlight on what's important, I know that my contribution has helped other people, and that’s what has been most important to me”
Claire goes on to talk about how important the work of Feeding Families is, she says that she feels humbled often, hearing of stories where food packages have prevented people from returning home to bare cupboards and being able to feed their children. Food is a vital and basic need.
She encouraged others to get involved by describing the array of roles available at Feeding Families, from packing, driving, collecting donations and even sewing toiletry bags that go into welcome home packages. There really is something for everyone.
On using Volunteero Claire really made us blush...
“It's genius, what a great app! Every charity needs it! It’s so simple to use, a real time saver. I feel in control of when I volunteer and it helps everyone to plan ahead”
When asked what she would say to others thinking of volunteering Claire says “Come and join us! Volunteering has had such a positive influence on me, if you have some time, and want to make a difference, there really is something for everyone. The Feeding Families team are such a genuine, friendly, kind-hearted bunch. We’d welcome your support and we’ll look forward to meeting you”
Volunteero is a platform that helps charities manage volunteers more effectively. If you’d like to learn more, please book a demo or get in touch. We’d love to hear from you.