Ladywood garden revamp

The Real Junk Food Project Birmingham has received funding from the Heart of England Community Foundation to upgrade and re-establish a community garden at the Ladywood Community Centre. There are already a few raised beds and a hot composting bin on site (see images).

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.

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Hobs Moat Café – Jay


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.

Jay

I first heard of the Real Junk Food Project Birmingham in December 2017 from a neighbour who invited me to come along to St Marys church hall for a bite to eat and a bit of shopping on a pay as you feel basis.

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.

Ladywood café – Marie


“It’s absolutely fantastic to come here. It’s so welcoming.”

Marie

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.

Ladywood café – Irina

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.

Ladywood café – Alice

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.

Irian – a volunteer from Tahiti

There are moments in your life where you need to give your time to other people.

Irian

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’.

A friend 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.

Irian has worked at a range of TRJFP Birmingham venues during his internship including:

He was shocked at how much food would go to waste if we didn’t intercept it and feels inspired to introduce The Real Junk Food Project to Tahiti.

Irian’s English has improved a lot during his time with us and he enjoyed speaking to all the different people he met through the project and felt that he was able to make a difference to their lives.

People think where he is from is paradise but Tahiti has all the same problems we have including poverty and excessive wealth.

We’d like to thank Irian for his hard work with the project and wish him well for his future studies and travels!