“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.
For the last two years, Alice and her colleague have been coming along to the Ladywood Community Centre to help with cooking food in the kitchen for the Real Junk Food Project Birmingham café there. Through her work with the charity, Active Well-Being Society, she came to discover the Real Junk Food Project Birmingham and now regularly takes along food to the Active Street events she helps to organise.
Active Streets provide community events to the streets around Birmingham. This involves the closure of the road to traffic and the organisation of events for the residents with the aim of increasing well-being and drawing people together.
The Active Well-Being Society also run Active Parks, which provides free fitness and well-being activity classes and events in parks around Birmingham for the residents.
Alice says she has a general awareness of the food waste issues in the food industry. The issue centres around the discard of huge volumes of perfectly edible food that has simply expired its best before date by supermarkets and the food industry in general. Since volunteering with TRJFPBrum, however, she is now a lot more passionate about this topic and knowledgeable on the facts.
Alice says she loves volunteering at the Ladywood Community Centre kitchen as she gets to interact with a mixture of people from a variety of backgrounds. She has also learned new skills such as preparing and cooking food for the public to food safety standards.
We want to thank Alice for her regular volunteering commitment to our project and the time she took to speak with us. It’s great to connect with other organisations in Birmingham who are providing such a worthwhile service to the community.
Justin is a cool guy who loves music and designs his own clothes range called ‘dream n achieve’. Before moving to the area, he lived in Canada for 20 years where his family still are. Being so far away from family can be isolating at times and Justin regularly enjoys coming to our Ladywood Café to find community and conversation. An added bonus is the freshly cooked food.
Justin first heard about The Real Junk Food Project Birmingham from Ann, volunteer coordinator, who he met at his child’s school. He liked the idea of the project and has since become a regular customer. At the café, Justin started meeting people from the local area and made some friends. They support each other when they have bad days and enjoy the good days.
The pay as you feel (payf) concept at our café was new to Justin who works two jobs in industrial cleaning and food preparation usually late at night and early in the morning. His clothing business is currently a side project Justin runs not for profit. He just wants people to like his clothes, but he does not want to profit from them.
Justin is not on social media and feels that face to face conversations with people is so much more real than pretending to be someone else on Facebook. The TRJFPBrum café at Ladywood community centre enables him to have those real conversations and he loves to tell his friends about TRJFPBrum. He asked why Ladywood was not open 5 days a week instead of only Wednesdays to Fridays.
We want to thank Justin for his regular financial contribution to our project and for his time to speak with us. Without cash we can’t pay for our sharehouse, where we store food donations, and the van we use to transport the food.
There are moments in your life where you need to give your time to other people.
Soon we will say goodbye to volunteer Irian, a young man who grew up in Tahiti, an island part of French Polynesia in the Central South Pacific Ocean. It’s a French version of Hawaii, Irian says. In total, the islands together have a population of just 275k people. He currently studies Business Studies in France as he was keen to experience a ‘big country’.
of his who had volunteered with us last year told Irian about the Real Junk
Food Project Birmingham. Irian wanted to come and help people in Birmingham
because it’s something he knows from his home country. In Tahiti people cook
for each other and do a lot of charity work and Irian was drawn to our project
to feed bellies not bins. Also, his degree requires him to do a 6 week
internship and Irian liked the idea of improving his English while feeding and
helping people in Birmingham.
worked at a range of TRJFP Birmingham venues during his internship including: