Time for a new start? Why not get involved with a community food project?

If you've got that 'back to school' feeling, try something new this autumn.

by Jo Glazebrook, Volunteer Coordinator 

For many people, September has a ‘back to school’ nature about it. While it’s a long time since I was at school, at this time of year I get that feeling a bit myself. I start to consider what I can do to keep myself busy over the autumn and winter so I don’t end up under a blanket for months on end. Nice as that is sometimes, I know it’s not good for me all the time. I have learnt that getting out and about, seeing people, getting a bit of air in my lungs and the blood pumping around my body, keeps me on the right track both mentally and physically.

Community gardens across the city provide the perfect opportunity to do just this. Most of them are open to volunteers all year round, as one project coordinator once said to me ‘we will always be here, even if it’s only to have a cup of tea’. Projects are open throughout the week with one or two drop in days for a few hours, for anyone to join in. This film gives a general idea of what you can expect when you volunteer, or if you are looking for something specifically therapeutic, this film has some other ideas to offer.

If gardening isn’t completely your thing, there are also lunch clubs and shared meal settings across the city. Whether you are an avid cook, can spare some time as a driver, or would enjoy making drinks and chatting to people, everyone’s skills are welcome and people of all ages and backgrounds take part. As well as sharing your skills, by volunteering you can learn new ones, meet new people, have some fun and contribute towards the community and environment.

Do you have the time to volunteer?

What time will you need to commit? Well, that’s pretty much up to you. While community gardens and food projects rely on volunteers who attend on a weekly basis, if you feel like your life is already busy enough, there are ways you can get involved that don’t require such a regular commitment. You may also find that the wellbeing benefits of getting involved provide the perfect antidote to a hectic schedule.   You don’t need to be an expert cook, gardener or super fit. There is pretty much something for everyone whatever level you are.

I read an article the other day that said ‘volunteering is like a date not a marriage’. While it’s not an analogy I would use myself, I guess there is something in there, in describing that volunteering doesn’t always require a total commitment, can be more flexible, and you can see where it leads. National volunteering charity Time Bank has found as charities and organisations have become more flexible about volunteering a ‘new breed’ of volunteers has emerged which has translated in a 52% increase in people volunteering between 2010 – 2015.

Find out more about volunteering with the Food Partnership

We like to be flexible in how we can help you too so if you want to get involved in some way there are a few ways you can go about it:

  • Have a look on our website at volunteering page. There is lots of information about community gardens and other food projects you can contact directly with times and days they are open and who to contact.
  • If you want a chat feel free to call me on 01273 431716 or email and I can give you a bit more information about specific projects.
  • Contact me and make an appointment for an advice session – basically an informal chat where we can talk though your interests and needs and work out how to get you started.
  • If you are working with or supporting someone who you think could benefit from this type of activity you can refer them to me for an advice session. It’s a really easy process.