In the FareShare Thames Valley warehouse

13 April 2016

12 April 2016
Guest blog by Andy Baker, FareShare Thames Valley volunteer
Volunteer and sometime roving reporter Andy Baker has been out and about to bring us a blog on life in the FareShare Thames Valley warehouse, saving food from waste and getting it out to local charities.

FareShare Thames Valley is operated by SOFEA (South Oxfordshire Food and Education Alliance), a charity who also provide training opportunities and skills to local young people who are not in education or employment. The FareShare warehouse provides real life experience of the food industry, warehousing and working for a charity.

FareShare Thames Valley staff and volunteers team photo, saving food from waste in South Oxfordshire
FareShare Thames Valley staff and volunteers

Andy joined FareShare Thames Valley in February after being referred by Headway Oxfordshire, a specialist brain injury support charity. He assists with writing blogs and press releases, editing the website, social media as well as general communications and coming up with fundraising ideas. Utilising his skills and experience in fundraising and events organisation, Andy also runs his own fundraising organisation, Play2Give.

Over to Andy…

Volunteering my time is extremely rewarding and I absolutely love it  –  it’s so friendly and warm and everyone has a laugh too! Living life with a long term disability such as a brain injury isn’t easy but the FareShare Thames Valley office is so calm. Everything I help with is everything I love to do – for instance I’ve had so much fun bringing you this blog, roving in the warehouse with my pen and notepad. Everyone can achieve no matter what the obstacles, hurdles or challenges. I always have a great zest for life and positivity and make the best of things no matter how tough the challenges are!

SOFEA benefits so many people from so many backgrounds, many with interesting and inspirational stories to tell.

Life in the FareShare Thames Valley warehouse

The FareShare warehouse is the life and soul of the party – the hub where all the activity goes on.  It’s a favourite place of staff and there is always a real buzz about.  It is full of crates, trollies, and a haven of food. The warehouse is overseen by Dave Hall, Operations Manager who after working as a night owl for many years, he’s now got used to day light which for him must be a real hoot! Dave is no stranger to warehouses as he worked previously for a Tesco distribution centre for a staggering 27 years!  There is also Steven who is responsible for our health and safety whilst Michael ensures our warehouse gains gold standard. Then there’s Cameron who ensures all our charities get their full food delivery on time and with a smile.

So after a brief introduction to some of the key players, what is it like to actually work in the warehouse? I talked to some of our staff and trainees to find out.

How has it benefited me? Immensely!”

Grant – our charities relationships man – is responsible for our members’ food orders and making sure that they are happy.

“I spent five and a half years out of work – due to my illness.  I found my way to FareShare Thames Valley thanks to the charity, The Shaw Trust. Being out of work and looking at four walls for such a long time was depressing and disheartening and in a way, dull. I have been here now on a paid term basis for nearly seven months. It really has improved my quality of life. I currently do 16 hours contracted but I’m so keen that I volunteer more because I love it – and a huge part of this is due to the atmosphere and the friendly warm place that is FareShare Thames Valley.

“It’s different; each day is vibrant and interesting.  It’s also challenging – but that’s a good part about it – as it makes the job.  It is very customer friendly. Working with young people is great, helping them to achieve what they otherwise may not.  It’s a full package.”

“It’s good to help and offer my time to a good cause.”

Matthew, trainee

“For me, one of the best things is getting to meet other young people in a really fun lively atmosphere. The best bit though is helping at a charity and giving back. I’m giving my time to help something worthwhile. It’s a great place for young people, and all the staff and teachers are nice and friendly.”

Surplus food saved from waste in the FareShare Thames Valley website

Lots of lovely surplus food in the FareShare Thames Valley warehouse, soon to be redistributed to local charities. 

This is Andrew Baker, roving reporting for FareShare Thames Valley, reporting from Trident Business Park in Didcot for FareShare UK.