Lifeafterhummus is a food bank organization which operates by collecting surplus food products from 45 supermarkets from around the Borough of Camden, London and individual donations, with the help of over 50 local volunteers. Apart from food donations, they receive clothes, toys, and other household items. These items are then redistributed to local hostels, after-school clubs, or to around 300 local residents. While there is currently only one centre that exists, there are other organisations who have a similar goal to Lifeafterhummus.

We interviewed Harinee Shanmugam about her experiences volunteering at Lifeafterhummus. Harinee, who is currently a UCL student doing an MA Law, has been volunteering for them since January 2023.

Can you describe what you would do in a day volunteering?

Normally, there is a list of things that need to be done by the end of the day, so all the volunteers choose one task or two and choose more based on how time consuming it is. What I do is very dependent on what needs to be done – stocking food, sorting and categorizing, organizing the fridge, cleaning the various spaces, or greeting and helping the users of the centre who arrive. I like that each time there is something new to be learned and it is not the same tasks every time either.

What skills have you gained?

I feel that I have gained several skills. For example, teamwork. Every morning, we have a list of tasks to do and so we need to divide up the work and figure out who will be doing which task.

In addition, I have learnt to multi task, as there are often several tasks to be completed by each one of us. This links to the skill of prioritization, which has also been important, as I often will realize I need to prioritize one task over the other to make sure the customers are greeted, for instance.

Finally, communication has been vital – between staff, other volunteers, or the users that come to the center.

Has there been a memorable moment for you during these past few months?

One Sunday, there was only me as a volunteer and a couple of other members of staff. I felt extremely accomplished and useful, as I completed most of the tasks on my own.

Would you recommend for other students to volunteer here?

Definitely. I love the sense of fulfilment that volunteering brings to me – it is extremely rewarding. I have been coming back since January, and I am always motivated in doing so, as I see the difference I am helping to make. Also, I didn’t expect it, but I have made friends along the way!

How did you find out about this volunteering opportunity?

UCL sends out volunteering emails every so often, and this volunteering opportunity was advertised on the newsletter. I wrote to Farrah, the coordinator of the organisation, introducing myself and stating my availability for the role. She answered quickly and the process of becoming a volunteer was very simple and easy.

Thank you to Harinee for sharing her volunteering experience! If you are interested in becoming a volunteer with Lifeafterhummus, you can learn more about them and their volunteering opportunities here!