Words by Adam Khan
For the past year in Kingstanding, the local community has been helping to run FoodCycle – a charitable initiative which seeks to tackle food poverty, loneliness, and food waste.
However, in order to recruit new volunteers the social support programme has been put on ‘pause’ as they look to build their bank of helping hands – serving up to 100 meals a week, with people needed to help both cook and host the drop in sessions.
To get involved in Kingstanding FoodCycle as an official volunteer, sign up online at: www.volunteer.foodcycle.org.uk/volunteer-sign-up
Organisers are also looking for more senior volunteers, to help keep the project sustainable and comply with the relevant health and safety criteria.
More urgent needs are for team leaders, especially for those with community outreach and leadership experience, to work with volunteers to ensure every meal is served to high standards, both in hygiene and customer service.
Kingstanding’s FoodCycle is held every Saturday in Birmingham Settlement, 610 Kingstanding Road, where a group of volunteers would prepare a vegetarian three-course meal from food that would otherwise have been thrown away.
Serving the local community in Kingstanding, guests are warmly welcomed at 1pm into a friendly, safe space, to enjoy a meal with other local residents. FoodCycle often also provided bags of food for people to take away.
The impact community initiatives like FoodCycle have is to enable people to come together, with comments coming from guests including “it feels like an open, non-judgemental free space” and “in the post pandemic world it is important for us to come out and socialise with others, and this space provides just that”.
A national organisation, with nine sites in the West Midlands and six in Birmingham, FoodCycle is not only a support network to help keep people physically healthy and fed but also brings communities together and challenges isolation.
Statistics show that 82% of people attending FoodCycle ‘made friends’ from the drop in sessions, with 86% saying it ‘makes them feel part of their community’. A further 85% said it gave them ‘a reason to leave the house.
With a commitment to health eating, FoodCycle has also had a positive impact on people’s diet – with 81% of people saying it helped them to ‘eat more fruit and vegetables’ and 91% saying they felt ‘well fed’ by the service.
Plus, as the food used would otherwise go to waste, FoodCycle helps lower the community’s carbon footprint, which benefits the environment too.
To register as an official FoodCycle volunteer visit www.volunteer.foodcycle.org.uk/volunteer-sign-up