For my community project I volunteered at a local foodbank in my area (East Kilbride). They have 10 foodbanks set up within churches in the area, which are open 6 days a week, and they aim to help families who are facing financial difficulty and don’t have enough money to buy all the food they require as a family. They can pick up a food parcel for their family with no questions asked in a judgement free area, because sometimes people can feel ashamed to ask a foodbank for help. Families can financially struggle a lot more a Christmas time so places like this are vital for people who may not be able to put food on the table at the festive period. They take donations for the public such as canned foods like tuna, pasta, tinned fruit or veg, chocolate, sweets, diluting juice and create parcels with the necessities to feed a family. They also take donations of clothing for children and adults who may struggle to buy clothing and at Christmas time they take donations of presents for children who may not get a lot at this time of year. They have a number of volunteers who are on hand to give out the parcels and to chat to the families to make it a more welcoming environment where they dont need to feel embarrassed.
I volunteered for one afternoon and worked with the other volunteers to hand out food parcels to the people who came in. Before coming to the foodbank I knew that people used them and what there purpose was, but I was surprised at just how many people in my local area struggled to put food on the table and it really opened my eyes to just how lucky I am to have 3 meals a day and not have to second think it. Realising how many people used the foodbank was a challenge for me as it made me quite upset that I had been so oblivious before but I really enjoyed giving the parcels out and having chats with the people who came in. It made me feel like I was doing something useful and making someone’s day better, I learned that some people that came for food didn’t have a lot of family or people to speak to and that sometimes the food bank is the only place that they can have a chat so this made it even more important for me to communicate and allow them that chance for a talk.
This experience taught me that we all have a responsibility for each other in our community and if we can help others then we should because no one should struggle to put food on the table. However, I don’t think there is enough being done to let people know that these foodbanks rely on donations and they are constantly running low on supplies. This experience also taught me a lot about myself. I already knew that I was a caring person but I learned that I really do have compassion for people who aren’t better off than me and that I can really make a big difference in someone’s life even through something as simple as a conversation and that is defiantly something I am going to make an effort to do more of. This also taught me that my communication skills are improving all the time because I used to struggle with it but I felt more confident whilst volunteering and this is important as communicating is a UWS Graduate Attribute (UWS, 2018) and a skill I will need for my future as a teacher. The foodbank has also taught me to be more appreciative of what I have because the things I take for granted such as food and clothes are things that people in my own local area struggle to have.
After volunteering at the foodbank I decided to create two Christmas parcels (one for a boy and one for a girl, aged 8) filled with hat, scarf, gloves, some toys and a selection box and handed it in so that 2 more children will wake up with presents on Christmas day because that is something I have always been lucky enough to have and now that I have been on placement in a school I would never want to think one of my pupils didn’t have food, clothing or a present on Christmas day. I felt really good after volunteering and making the Christmas parcels and it is something I will continue to do from now on as my part in my community.
A volunteering opportunity like this allows people to use their people skills around all different kinds of people and their communication skills as well as allowing themselves to become more socially aware, which are all vital within a classroom as there are all different types of children with all different backgrounds and you need to be able to talk to them and staff within the school too.
This experience could link into sustainability as it reduces food waste if people, who would normally put unwanted (in date) food in the bin, gave it into foodbanks instead where it could be used by people who need it. It could also link into inter-professional working as a teacher may notice a pupil who is hungry all the time and through different processes of intervention may be able to introduce foodbanks in the area to the parents or carers through social services.
I really enjoyed my time at the food bank and it opened my eyes to something I have been ignorant to before and now I will take this forward with me and think about it in everything that I do. I don’t know what goes on in peoples life’s and it is important to always be compassionate and understanding, in a foodbank, a classroom and in general.
University of the West of Scotland (2018) UWS Graduate Attributes [Online] Available: https://www.uws.ac.uk/current-students/your-graduate-attributes/[Accessed:27th November 2019]