Volunteer Voices: Newtown Community Café

For Volunteers' Week, Andy from Newtown tells us about his experience of volunteering during lockdown.

Andy Newham
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"Since the national lockdown, 70 days ago, I have had the pleasure of volunteering as a driver for the Newtown Community café, which although closed weekly to walk-in customers, has been cooking nutritious meals, by a lovely team of folks led by Helen and Marcus.

A PAVO staff member told me that there was a need and I quickly had sent a text to the organizers to volunteer my driving skills and my car. The first week I went, I recognized several friendly faces amongst other drivers: David, Rhian, and John.

I help with assembling the meals in the Methodist Church, at around 11:45pm. The nice nutritious meals, which are three courses of hot and cold food; usually a soup, main course and a dessert. Sometimes there are additional “goodie” bags donated by local supermarkets, under the Fairshare scheme to reduce food waste. I use my own car to deliver the meals to houses and flats nearby, where people are self-isolating or shielding due to coronavirus.

I enjoy the weekly trip out, which only takes about 45 minutes each Wednesday. It is a highlight for me now, because:

  1. I get a chance to serve in my local community.
  2. I meet nice people who are cheerful and friendly.
  3. I can smile and cheer people up as I ring their doorbells and stand back and chat to them.
  4. It is a chance to get out and enjoy the sunny weather in May and June, 2020. Only a few days have been wet so far!
  5. I get to sample left over food, which is very tasty!

A couple of the people I deliver to have repeatedly passed on their thanks and said how nice the food is, which is always encouraging for the whole team. It is quite difficult for the team to operate this weekly volunteer activity which produces around 35 meals each week, using only one domestic cooker in a church kitchen! The main organizer, Helen, does a lot of preparation and paperwork each week, so she is volunteering many more hours than me. As I also sample some of the food, I know it is both nutritious and tasty. Helen and her team have got the quantities just right, so there should be not much food waste in people’s houses. Many items are hot, but some are cold and can be re-heated for another meal later in the day.

Finally, a very positive, personal outcome was that, on my first week, there was extra food left over. Helen was asking if we knew anyone who might like some. I suggested that my 86 year old mother in law might like a one-off meal. Helen asked me if she would like to be put on the list. I asked my mother-in-law and she is now signed up and enjoying the weekly meal too.

I have been asked if I would like to continue until Christmas, and I agreed as I work part-time, and Wednesday lunchtime is convenient to me. It appears that volunteer drivers are going to be in demand, as some furloughed workers are returning to workplaces as they start to re-open.

If you have any spare time to help in this way, I’d encourage you to try it."

Where to find us

Llandrindod Wells Office

Unit 30
Ddole Road Industrial Estate
Llandrindod Wells
Powys
LD1 6DF

01597 822 191

Newtown Office

Plas Dolerw
Milford Road
Newtown
Powys
SY16 2EH

01686 626 220

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