We have bought some tools, a storage box and another raised bed as well as soil and plants. If you would like to get involved to make this garden more colourful and get your hands dirty please come along on Fridays between 11am and 12pm. You will get a hot meal afterwards at our café on site.
I went along and had a very nice roast dinner with pudding and a decent bag of shopping a chat with some of my unknown neighbours. A very relaxing afternoon with some lovely company for which I gave 4 or 5 pounds, what a bargain.
I enjoyed it so much I offered to help out if it ever happened again, and I’ve not looked back. We now have a great bunch of volunteers and have been going from strength to strength, we have even had a street party for the people living in Trinity Close where quite a few neighbours came and spent a beautiful sunny afternoon with tea, coffee, fruit juice, cakes, biscuits, fruit and music, it was great.
I can truly say that volunteering for the Real Junk Food Project Birmingham is the most rewarding and fulfilling thing I have ever done. I’ve made a whole bunch of new friends and got to know more of my neighbours in the past few months than I have the previous 7 years I have lived here. I feel so lucky I’m in a position to be able to help and feel I get more out of it than it gets out of me.
On a more serious note, it’s truly frightening to see the amount of good fresh fruit and veg, other food stuff and many many household items that would otherwise go to landfill if it weren’t intercepted and fairly distributed by the Real Junk Food Project Birmingham. A great initiative.
“It’s absolutely fantastic to come here. It’s so welcoming.”
Marie has volunteered at our Ladywood Café for around a year after being welcomed in whilst passing through the Ladywood Community Centre. She has no dependants or ties and offered her help with the boutique.
She says, running the cafe and cooking food for the public is a difficult job with lots of regulation involved. We are all in a community and we all need to work together if we want to get things done. It requires organisation. Supporting each other is a strong value for Marie who says even if people have no money, they are made to feel welcome to eat here in exchange for their help.
The café gives people a place to go despite their issues such as isolation and depression, something that Marie appreciates a lot. There are good days and bad days.
The café is open Wednesday, Thursday and Friday 12 – 2pm and some have asked her why the café isn’t open throughout the week.
Marie has a sense of meaning and purpose since taking up her role at the café and enjoys meeting the people that come in to eat including those most vulnerable such as women with babies and the elderly. She is especially keen to give her time to the elderly who are more vulnerable and prone to becoming isolated and lonely. She is drawn to give them company and help build up their trust. She wants to help where she can including taking shopping home for them.
Marie is inspired by the people who work at the café. Ann, the volunteer coordinator for the Real Junk Food Project Birmingham, has been a real inspiration for her as Marie has seen how much Ann manages in her diverse role with the project.
We want to thank Marie for her work as a volunteer and her time to speak to us.
Irina (not the lady’s real name as she wants to stay anonymous) has been coming to The Real Junk Food Project Birmingham Ladywood Café for almost a year. She moved to Birmingham early last year and struggled for food as she didn’t have enough money to buy what she needed.
Someone told her to go to the Ladywood Community Centre for help and she found our café and boutique. Irina is volunteering for her food as money is tight. She helps with the boutique and also distributes Greggs donuts that are always very popular.
She think the project is nice and makes many people very happy in the Ladywood area giving them a three course lunch and tea or coffee in exchange for money, skill or time. Irina enjoys helping people and is appalled by what food would go to waste if we didn’t intercept it. In her opinion the food we receive is perfectly usable and shouldn’t be earmarked for the waste bin in the first place.
When we asked if there was anything else Irina wanted to say, tears came to her eyes and she simply said “Thank you”. We love being here and want to thank you Irina for volunteering your time to work at the Ladywood boutique and café as well as for your bravery to speak to us for this interview.