Volunteers’ Week 2016: Kirsty Haines at FoodCycle Author: GUEST POST     
Date: 7th June 2016



Over 21 million people volunteer in the UK at least once a year, contributing around £23.9bn to the UK economy. This week is Volunteers’ Week (1 – 12 June), and one of our trainees, Jenny Lake, speaks to fellow volunteer and Food Surplus Coordinator at the food redistribution charity FoodCycle, Kirsty Haines about her experiences.


 

Kirsty Haines (original)Why do you volunteer Kirsty?

I think it’s important to take some time out of your own life and to do something to benefit someone else, rather than you being the sole focus of everything that you do. I think it’s very easy to be all about your own self-interest, but doing something which directly benefits someone else, particularly a stranger, opens your eyes to a bit more of the world and makes you a more well-rounded person. With so many volunteering opportunities available the difficulty can be not helping others but choosing how to! It’s also something which gives me a personal sense of wellbeing and as such is a good use of my time.

How did you come to choose the cause area you did?

I used to work in the hospitality sector and one of the reasons I left this industry was I couldn’t bear seeing the amount of perfectly good food which went straight in the bin. The amount of food waste one venue creates is pretty astounding! After a few years of working in different roles, I found myself still thinking about all that wasted food and wondered if it had to be that way. A quick google search revealed to me that it didn’t and that’s how I found FoodCycle.  My involvement with FoodCycle allows me to re-direct food from local shops and supermarkets from the bin to our hub to create delicious 3 course meals for the local community.

What does your particular role involve?

My role involves liaising with local shops and supermarkets to secure surplus food supply for our hub and also researching new opportunities to expand our supplier network. Food Waste reduction is a current buzz phrase in the supermarket world, with many of the national supermarkets placing this front and centre on their agendas. With the local stores, this is less of a priority so it is more difficult to get them on board, but with time and policy demands I think this will change. I also arrange the food pick-ups, maintain positive working relationships with our suppliers and also coordinate volunteers on the pick-ups.

Have you developed any skills which you feel are universally important since beginning to volunteer?

Working with a cross section of people has really developed my interpersonal skills as there are many different people who volunteer with us so you learn to be very agile in your communication approach. Managing volunteers is also been a new skill for me, but one which is universal as it’s about understanding people’s motivations and supporting them in different ways than you would a team of employees.

What advice would you give someone considering using some of their spare time to volunteer?

Think about what you enjoy doing and get involved with something you know that you like. Don’t worry too much about developing skills, as if you enjoy what you do you’ll find that you are developing skills anyway.

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