I must start off with a confession: I had never really considered volunteering for a charity before joining The Felix Project on a full time basis. This was mainly due to thinking, I didn’t have the time or there is a whole process to join a charity. I have the feeling this is the case in many people’s minds, however it really is quite the opposite. I found out, personally, how many charities there are all around London. There will be one close to you as well. Joining is easier now than ever, usually just filling in a few details online and soon you will be at the charity helping out. Generally, charities are very happy to have you even for just a few hours they really appreciate you wanting to help out, so time is not an issue either. I certainly will make every effort to continue supporting The Felix Project once my time here, on a full time basis, has finished and I return to my “normal” duties in hospitality.
The Felix Project
I have been supporting The Felix Project in Enfield for just over four months now and my first week did feel quite overwhelming at times. You really do find out how many people are in need, every single day, and equally the sheer amount of food there is available just from donations and surpluses is incredible! The volunteers who come here weekly or daily, are the most wonderful people, giving so much of their time and this also works the other way around, for so many helping at a charity gives them a purpose and a sense of achievement as well. On top of all of this, getting used to the way the charity works, how the warehouse is run and also driving a bigger vehicle than I am used to, also contributed to this.
This brings me to what I actually do on a daily basis at the charity: Some days I will be mainly at the warehouse, where we will be sorting food into crates according to date and what sort of produce it is, ready to go into the vans or the cars of charities who collect from the depot. The main bit of my work here though is driving a van filled with food to the charities/foodbanks. Before I take you through a day delivering food.
How The Felix Project Works.
The Felix Project receives food donated from several suppliers, which varies from farms to supermarkets and everything in between. This food is generally either surplus, which has been over ordered, or too much has been produced. So perfectly good food, which otherwise would have been wasted. This food either gets delivered, or it gets picked up by the volunteer drivers with their vans. Once this reaches the depot, it gets sorted and crated ready to give out to the charities and foodbanks.
A Typical Day
Back to a day with me: I would arrive around 7:30am, sign in, take my temperature and check the routes for the morning. I usually know which route I am doing through their app which gets updated the day before. Usually there are about 7-8 vans going out in the morning, with either multiple drops or a single drop to a bigger hub. One van will go on the morning bread run to collect bread from bakeries. The day before the vans will have been loaded with ambient crates which don’t need to be chilled, so in the morning we mainly fill the vans with crates from the fridge. This can be yoghurts, meat and ready meals. These ready meals come from charities who cook them especially for this purpose and they also come from several units from bartlett mitchell. They are made by our chefs which would otherwise have been on Furlough at home. Now they are producing wonderful meals for people in need. The volunteers including myself then collect this from the sites and bring it back to the depot to deliver them to the charities.
Once the van is filled, we do a van check to make sure everything is in order and it is safe to go on the road. Each van has got a phone assigned to it, which will have the app with our routes to navigate from charity to charity. Once we arrive at the first charity, we unload their allocated crates and log this on the app. The feeling of delivering these and how much this is appreciated by the charities is truly incredible, being able to help so many people by doing something quite simple doesn’t fade away. I arrive each day still thinking I want to help these people as much as I can. Navigation set to the next charity and off we go. Some routes have a collection at the end, at suppliers, on the way back and after that, back to the depot. Some days I will do multiple routes and some days there will just be a trip to Kent for example to collect more produce.
All in all, I can’t stress enough how happy I am that I am able to do this and help so many people. It is the best way of giving something back. I am very proud to be part of this team, even more so now, as back in February, we at the Enfield depot, delivered 1 million meals in a month for the first time!