Thanks to a team of 50 local volunteers supporting a small team of 3 people we run a surplus foodbank very close to UCL campuses in Somers Town (NW1 1ES) just north of the Euston Road behind the British Library. We collect surplus from circa 45 local supermarkets and stores every week using a mixture of hand carts, bicycle trailers, cargo bike and cars. This surplus is sorted thru at our surplus foodbank and redistributed to 80 local households who visit the foodbank. Our volunteers also take the surplus and redistribute it to support 11 local hostels, 1 after-school club and a church group. Due to the nature of mixture transport: 36% of our collections are carbon avoided and 72% of redistribution is carbon avoided. We take in circa 15 tonnes of surplus food every quarter! Food and packaging that would have otherwise gone to waste/ incineration. We also operate a surplus cart outside for member of the public to engage with. The rise in energy bills means that there are many people in need in the local area. Just under half of all those we support in-house are children; circa 125. Our beneficiaries are hard-to reach communities and have English as an additional language. Mostly Somali and Bengali households. Thanks to volunteers we have been able to support some homes back into employment. The majority of people prior to the pandemic worked in the service and hospitality industry. We have so many opportunities for volunteers to engage with. What we ask from you is an 'intersectional' approach to how you treat people and a commitment to a regular shift on a weekly or two weekly basis. Do check out our instagram for more information.
These particular opportunities are for you to engage with local residents by:
- Volunteering at our monthly clothing swap which is on the 3rd Saturday of every month.
- Mending items of clothing brought by the public to the clothing swap on the 3rd Saturday of every month.
- To help repair items of clothing that have come in donated and require some mending that we consider worth fixing.
- To take textile waste and sew them into tote bags to for the surplus foodbank.
- Harvesting haberdashery (hardware) from textile waste.
Free clothing swap:
This is held on the 3rd Saturday of the month. It is held outside in our small courtyard and as such is weather dependent. Your duties are to help with setting up for the swap. Moving items from our 'Room of things' outside. Helping to display them in an attractive fashion. And if you are comfortable doing so - engaging with members of the public as they pass by, telling them what we are doing and raising awareness of waste prevention and the opportunity to declutter to support others. We find that most people we engage with are 40+ and many have English as an additional language and are refugees. It creates a wonderful atmosphere to demonstrate the power of community. The end of the sessions involves getting all the items back into the 'Room of things'. We also do some monitoring of demographics as well as items in/out.
Clothing menders at the monthly clothing swap:
To apply for this opportunity you must be confident using a sewing machine and experienced carrying out repairs and be comfortable speaking to members of the public. You will be sat at the repairs table at our clothing swap engaging with residents who will bring you items for you to repair or will want you to show them how to repair it themselves. Our swap is always on the 3rd Saturday of the month. If it is not a busy session then we always have items that we have identified in the centre that need fixing. This works as an attraction to draw in members of the public. It has been known for people to run home and bring their item for mending.
Clothing menders (No fixed time/ day):
To apply for this opportunity you must be confident using a sewing machine and experienced carrying out repairs. It is important that any items that are mended look good. It can be visible or non-visible repairs. Why? Because people who access our 'Room of things' are experiencing a tough time and as such it is really important to safeguard their mental health. If we do not think we can get a neat repair then it isn't worth repairing, we'd rather send it to textile waste or make something else out of it. You can do this in your own time during our operating hours as we have 2 spaces that can be used (one quiet/ one in the heart of the centre). We'd expect you to volunteer at least once a month.
Tote bag making:
Given the amount of clothing donations we take in, inadvertently 20-30% isn't good enough quality to put out for people to take. This offers an opportunity to try and make something useful from the textile waste before it hits the waste stream. We always need bags in our surplus foodbank. Your duty would be to take textile we have identified as suitable for making tote bags and sewing them from your pattern or our pattern on our sewing machines. These are domestic machines. You can do this in your own time during our operating hours. We'd expect you to volunteer at least once a month.
Harvesting haberdashery (Hardware):
Before sending textile waste on it's final journey to the waste stream we have been collecting anything useful; buttons, zips, detailing, etc that can be resued or taken as haberdashery from our 'Room of things'. This does require patience and organisational skills. This can be done in your own time during our operating hours. We'd expect you to volunteer at least once a month.
Customer care, Handling & moving objects, Safeguarding.
We will also take you thru our risk assessment of using the sewing machines.
You must already be confident using a sewing machine. This isn't for beginners.
At the clothing swap you will be supervised by more senior volunteers.
Clothes mending (No fixed time/ day), Tote bag making and Haberdashery harvesting can be done on a Thursdsay, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday between 11.30am until 5.30pm. It does not have to be regular volunteering but we would expect you to do at least one session a month. You can do this alone or in pairs. You can have your headphones on or engage with others. You can sit in the heart of the centre or in our quiet room. It is your choice.