From packing food into crates, driving vans, plotting delivery routes or helping keep our four warehouses clean, tidy and running efficiently, our diverse, cheerful and above all, dedicated team of volunteers are what keep the FareShare South West wheels turning.
In return for their time, support and enthusiasm, we work hard to provide our volunteers with a meaningful experience every time they walk through the door. What this looks like varies from volunteer to volunteer. For some, it could be something as simple as a mid-shift cup of tea and a chat. For others, it’s the chance to learn new skills or even get a qualification. To be able to give something back to all of our volunteers, we’ve developed Volunteer Plus – a semi-structured programme which offers a range of different opportunities to all volunteers, including those that face additional barriers to securing employment.
Chris* spent 3 months working with FareShare South West as part of his supported internship, at Sixteen Co-operative Ltd. Sixteen is a small, impactful organisation with a single aim – to get people into work. One of the ways they achieve this is through supported internships – one year programmes of study that combine useful, practical learning with structured work experience. Hosted by a variety of different employers across the region (including FareShare South West), interns undertake three different work placements through the year. Crucially, 75% of interns go on to secure paid work.
As part of the collaboration between FareShare South West and Sixteen, Chris learned how to work to a schedule, work as part of a team in a busy warehouse environment and interact with people from all walks of life. Thanks to the skills he gained at FareShare South West, Chris has since secured a job at a large warehouse, where his employers say that the is a model employee.
Chris said: “At Fareshare South West, I learnt a lot about the practicalities about warehousing. I had been afraid to make mistakes, but at Fareshare they said that it was okay and so it gave me a safe place to learn and develop.”
During the pandemic, Darren* struggled more than most. He’d had a difficult time at school and was already lacking in confidence. Lockdown saw him become isolated and withdrawn and he struggled to leave the house, even after restrictions were lifted. With support and encouragement from a relative, Darren was supported by Sixteen and through them, secured a placement with FareShare South West, helping our emergency food operations from Ashton Gate by packing food parcels, managing stock and working as part of a huge team of all ages and from all walks of life. From there, Darren went on to find work with a nearby garage where he spent a year learning and developing skills, before moving on to a new role at Poundland.
Darren said: Volunteering at Fareshare, helped me build my confidence, how to work as a team and work skills. Of course, it gave me a chance to get out of the house, which really helped at the time.“
Sheren Wyatt at Sixteen Coop added: “FareShare South West has been such a valuable placement for the interns from the Supported internships. It has given them an opportunity to learn about picking and packing, general warehouse work, along with work skills like team work and time management.“
For FareShare South West, the Volunteer Plus programme is a way to give something back to everyone we work with. It aims to provide those who want it with even more than a useful, sociable way to spend a couple of hours.
Eleanor Wolff, Volunteer Coordinator at our South Bristol warehouse said:
“Volunteers and people on placement with us are crucial to our operations at FareShare South West but for lots of people, being here is so much more than just a chance to get out of the house. We offer a safe, supportive, inclusive space that is often the stepping stone back into work or a way for people to rebuild lives. Our Volunteer Plus programme acknowledges and celebrates this area of our work.”
*Names have been changed