5 May 2020
Gary Brindle is one of FareShare Merseyside’s most reliable van drivers. When I ask him how he got involved in FareShare he tells me to brace myself for a story. “I’m a van driver by trade, a courier,” he begins, telling me about the pressures of making hundreds of deliveries in a day. In 2018 though he realised he had to make a change” “I realised I had a problem with alcohol and needed to enter rehab. It was a three month rehab program, we had groups and classes everyday except Wednesdays, which was activity day. FareShare delivered food to the rehab so I started volunteering with them on my Wednesdays.”
Gary is now 15 months sober and living in an abstinence house in Liverpool. He doesn’t feel ready to return to full-time work just yet, he has a lot to contribute and has stepped up his FareShare commitments to four or five mornings each week. “FareShare are just giving me that stepping stone to get back to work,” he explains, “It keeps me busy and gives me a way to give back. I’ve made friends as well, I’m quite—well, I like to think I’m quite popular!”
He’s popular not just for a laugh but for his expertise as a van driver: “Any new volunteers on the scene they’ll send them out with me to show them the ropes. I am good at my job and I’ve got the experience to pass that on.” He stops himself and exclaims “Wow I’m really gonna sound like I’m bigging myself up!”
Though he doesn’t want to hog the spotlight, it’s clear how valuable he is to the team, and how much being part of that team means to him. “In my old job it was very self-taught, you were very much on your own,” he explains. Now he talks excitedly of his joy at helping coax newer volunteers out of their shells: “I’d recommend it really, especially to anyone with anxiety. Some people can be quite worried about getting out in the world but once they come out with me in the van they love it. I enjoy that every day is different. I get to see all walks of life, because you’re on the front lines when you’re delivering food. I enjoy getting to meet new people, and I also get to know a lot of my customers. You see that FareShare is doing such important work.”
While he’d like to return to work eventually, FareShare is helping him to take things at his own pace. “Everyone here has been so lovely, they’re really understanding of my illness but also what I can do,” he tells me, “for so long I was just doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result. But now I’ve made a change. I will be ready to go back to work someday but I’m quite happy at the moment, happy to be sober and happy to be doing the work I’m doing.