Here’s what they got up to:
My day at The Welcome Centre was varied and gave me rare insight as to the services they provide…
My first task was to help prepare spare bags of food that will be given out to people finding themselves living on the streets. This involved including items such as tinned soup, pasta, etc. and navigating through a supermarket style storeroom, to find the correct items and put them in my trolley. Not quite a supermarket sweep, but close!
Next I had the important, but not glamorous task, of splitting a 12kg bag of salt down into individual servings which are then included in the food bags given out.
My final and most enjoyable part of the day, was helping to put together “home starter kits”. These starter kits are made up for people who have moved into accommodation with nothing, and include essential items such as plates, cutlery, etc.
I arrived at 10am, and was welcomed by the Centre Manager. They have drivers who go around the Greggs in town and pick up the old pastries, sausage rolls, cakes and doughnuts, and the pre-packaged sandwiches.
So, the first step is that the sandwiches get their temperatures taken! If they are below 11c degrees, they can go in the fridge and be given out as extras (before 3pm when they will have to be thrown out). If they are above 11 degrees C then sadly, they must be thrown out straight away.
We then divided the pasties into two and put them in bags for ‘meat meal’ and put a use by date on them. Then we divided the sweet treats into fours and put a use by date on them.
Once all the Greggs food had been sorted, the drivers came back with other fresh produce from the super markets which included: fruit, veg, and day old bread. The fresh fruit and veg is given out daily and the ‘old’ bread is given as an extra as there is no guarantee of freshness and how long it will last.
After sorting the fresh produce, I went to the stores and packed some spare bags with the normal single person shopping list, this consisted of, but not exclusively:
2 meat meal tins
1 tin of beans or spaghetti rings
1 tin of tuna
1 500g bag or weeks serving of cereal
500g of pasta or rice
2 pasta/rice/noodle meals
A pasta sauce or tin of tomatoes and stock cube
When they are being packed for an actual person they would get ‘treats’ put in too, which are packaged biscuits/chocolate bars, crisps, nuts etc
Then I got to see the fresh items added when a customer came in to collect, which consisted of:
1 loaf of bread
1 cup of margarine
1 meat meal (the Greggs produce or 5 frozen sausages)
2 pieces of Fruit
1 large tin of potatoes or fresh ones if available
1 piece of veg
1 pack of biscuits
I had a great time volunteering, and it really hit home to me just how little they are expected to live on for a week, if they don’t have much by way of store cupboard (which they probably won’t!). But this is a massive start to helping them out with getting the food they so desperately need!
I volunteered to spend some time at the Welcome Centre as part of our work initiative and to “give something back” but didn’t realise quite how interesting and enjoyable it would actually be.
It was great to see the local businesses that donate so much fresh food; I spent some time sorting out the donations from Greggs which took quite a while as there was so much of it!
I also spent time making up food packs to last a person or a family for a whole week. This has made me really consider the food that I use in my own house. Doing something like this brings it all home, so I will be making a real effort to waste less, as there are so many people that are in need.
I opted to volunteer my time at the warehouse of The Welcome Centre, and was met by a very friendly chap. He explained that the centre was expanding due to demand, and that a new warehouse was being set up, ready to be used to store donated items, both food and non-food. The warehouse was full of items such as bedding, toiletries, bottles of sauces, baked beans, Easter Eggs, and much more. The donations were dropped off and the volunteers were busy sorting them out and storing them in the right places. They had a very good system in place, and had great team working skills!
As the new warehouse is getting closer to being complete, there were a few jobs needing to be done, ready for when the forklift arrives. One job was drawing a line 1 metre from the shelving, so that there was a gap for the volunteers to be able to work within. This was done very cleverly, by using a Tupperware box, chalk dust and a piece of string! It was impressive!
I helped to sort out the delivery, which had just been brought in by the driver. They had been to all the drop off points, such as the ones in the supermarkets, where people had donated goods, and I had the task of sorting them and storing them.
I had a really good time at the warehouse, despite it being very cold, it was incredible to see the kindness of people who had donated items, and the fantastic volunteers spending their time sorting it all out. I would definitely do it again and felt proud of the work I did there.
We are still organising more events this year to continue our fundraising for the fantastic, and well needed charity. So keep an eye on our website for future events and if you would like to donate, you can do so here: