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Volunteering can offer a wide range of benefits, not least increasing self-confidence, meeting new people, and learning new skills. Here our Food and Nutrition Officer, Gill Kelsall, interviews one of Family Action’s volunteers about their experiences of volunteering during their year out before going to university.

“I chose to volunteer for Family Action’s food services team specifically as I am a passionate baker, cook and foodie. My favourite food is vegetable spring rolls with a chilli sauce, which I wrote about in a blog that I completed for Family Action – they are one of my ‘feelgood’ foods that make me feel happy, and I make them myself. If you’d like to give them a go too here is my recipe.

I have been involved in lots of projects and activities in my time here at Family Action – I have helped to develop recipes, proofread articles for the website, interviewed a colleague about their holiday activities and food programme, written a blog and assisted at FOOD Clubs. I particularly enjoyed seeing the clubs in person as it was really interesting to see how they work practically.

I think volunteering can be character building. Personally I wanted to do something different after I had finished school, something that wasn’t academic. I also felt like giving something back to the community without expecting anything in return.

“Volunteering can be character building.”

I have enjoyed developing my existing skills and learning new ones. I learnt more about research and writing for blogs, which was great as I believe it is good to challenge yourself to learn new skills. I feel that these six weeks have given me the experience to help me achieve my goals as It has been a great insight into working within the charity sector.

“I believe it is good to challenge yourself to learn new skills.”

You don’t just have to choose one place to volunteer. As well as volunteering with Family Action, I have been working as a volunteer host in Coventry, which is currently awarded UK City of Culture status. I assisted at events there, for example, helping to greet visitors and telling them about Coventry, which I really enjoyed.

I have also volunteered at the local village shop in my grandma’s village, where my duties involved serving customers, stock taking and stocking shelves. The shop provided essential foods for people living in the village which is especially important for people like my grandma who don’t have a car.

I am now going to Germany to see family for a few weeks, and then I plan to do some further voluntary work in a school before going to university in September. I will miss British chocolate in Germany. Also in England there is a different variety of restaurants and foods to choose from – with curry being one of my favourites.

I will also miss Twiglets! I might have to pack some in my suitcase to take with me…”