Daniel has been volunteering with the Clare Foundation to deliver hot meals to vulnerable people and sees it as a great way to give back to the community he grew up in.

What led you to volunteer? Even before the pandemic I had been wanting to volunteer for some time but commuting to London each day for my full-time job left little time available for anything else.  In the pandemic I continued to work full-time, but from home, which meant I could be available for volunteering as soon I finished work for the day.

I registered with the Buckinghamshire Volunteer Matching Service (VMS) straight away as I wanted to help those who were in a much worse position than me because of the pandemic. I felt that I was one of the lucky ones – I continued to be in a secure job, able to pay the bills and live life as normally as lockdown allowed. I knew there were many people in a less fortunate position.

It took a long time before the VMS found a suitable role for me, but I knew from the regular email updates that there was a really good volunteer response in the county and that the team were still matching people to roles.

What is your role? I am one of a team of volunteers delivering hot evening meals to vulnerable people as part of an initiative being run by the Clare Foundation in conjunction with local partners. I was happy to take this on as it is at the right time of day for me, I am happy to drive around and I like dealing with people directly. I agreed to take on deliveries in and around Aylesbury.

How did you develop the role? On my first session I was given a number of meals to deliver to different addresses and had to decide for myself the best route between them. Despite having lived in Aylesbury since I was a child, it turned out I didn’t know every road as well as I thought and I strongly suspected that the route I chose was not the most efficient!

Before my next session, I did some research and found a free app online specifically designed to plan delivery routes (and is often used by commercial delivery drivers). I tried that app on my next delivery session and found it worked really well, both in planning the route and in travelling between deliveries. It saves time and petrol and ensures people get their meals much faster.

At the end of the shift, I shared the app with all the other volunteer drivers via the WhatsApp group that we use, and all the other volunteers were really keen to use it.

What do you gain personally from volunteering? It is really rewarding to see people’s smiles when I deliver the hot meals to them. I feel I am doing something that makes a real difference to others and that is well worth my giving up a few hours a week. I love that I can give back to the community that I grew up in.

The people I have been volunteering with have also all been very nice and we enjoy working to a common goal.

Would you recommend volunteering? Absolutely! There of lots of different opportunities to volunteer, whatever your availability is and whether or not you can drive or are otherwise mobile. I would say to anyone thinking about volunteering “Just try it – what have you got to lose?”


Additional information:

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Updated on September 18, 2023

Image courtesy of St Francis's Children Society