THE PLANT-BASED COMMUNITY COOKERY SCHOOL
It's Volunteers Week! And we're celebrating our amazing volunteer family. There are too many to all name individually so we'll be highlighting just a few of these generous souls to acknowledge our huge gratitude for the enormous contributions they are making during these challenging times.
Third up this week is Amy, one of our awesome multi talented and long standing volunteers in conversation here with our founder Sarah:
Sarah: Hi Amy, Thank you so much for your support these past months (and years!) What volunteer roles have you had with Made in Hackney before the COVID19 crisis?
Amy: Many! I started volunteering in sept 2017 as a project apprentice. I've also assisted as a class host with cookery classes and helped with social media campaigns.
Sarah: What was your employment situation before the crisis and has this been affected?
Amy: I had recently trained as a chef and so was applying for work in that area and had various now-thwarted plans. Obviously I can't do any of those things at the moment so I'm developing my skills at home and using my skills to keep my family healthy.
Sarah: Tell us about your role volunteering for us during the lockdown?
Daily posts on social media as well as making welfare calls to people receiving emergency meals to check how they are getting on with the service. This in particular has felt very worthwhile but has certainly been a challenge emotionally. I've also worked on research for the meal delivery service.
Sarah: How has performing this volunteer role for us affected your experience of lock down and the crisis?
Amy: I have really missed my Made in Hackney family but since I'm not a Hackney local and live with two people who are considered high risk, it hasn't been an option to physically get out and do anything. By volunteering at home I'm able to help in other ways. In terms of perspective, making the calls has given me a true and often very sobering insight into how the current crisis is putting people's lives at risk. Made In Hackney's emergency meal service is saving lives and providing a true life-line for people who are living in very desperate times.
Sarah: How does it make you feel?
Amy: I think we all have our part to play and this seems to be mine, so I am grateful for it.
Sarah: Have you learnt any new skills?
Amy: I've certainly been developing my communication skills with each call. The conversations are some of the most sensitive and delicate I've ever had, each one totally different. Each one requiring an open ear and a loving response.
Sarah: What new insights if any has it given you?
Amy: The Covid19 crisis is about way more than the virus itself and the meal service is about more than just food. I've spoken to people who look forward to their meal delivery not just because it's their only meal of the day but also because the courier is the only person they get to see all week. As well as providing much needed nutrition, I have also heard first-hand how the meal deliveries have had a positive impact on people's mental wellbeing, are helping to tackle loneliness and in some cases have saved people's lives.
Sarah: What are the most rewarding (and the most challenging) aspects about performing this volunteer role?
Amy: Through helping with social media I hope I'm helping to encourage people to join the wonderful online cook-alongs to help raise money to feed more people. When I've spoken to people on the phone, they are usually really grateful for the conversation and relieved to get stuff off their chest to someone who's ready to listen. Although the subject matter is often quite harrowing, I always hang up feeling like the calls were so worthwhile for the person I'm speaking to and to me, to help me understand the situation a little better.
Sarah: How would you like to continue volunteering with us once the government lockdown eases?
Amy: I'm happy to be whatever cog is needed in the wonderful machine that is Made In Hackney. Even if that's just Sarah's instagram tech support.
Sarah: Brilliant Amy! We’ll always have much more for you to do than be my social media helpline :)