Article of the week: Making myself useful
17 April 2021
Isaac Parkhill, aged 18, shares his experience of volunteering at the Ayr Corps food bank
DURING the coronavirus pandemic I have enjoyed the amazing experience of spending my spare time volunteering. I have thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it and have grown not only as an individual but also as a team player.
I have been volunteering in the food bank since June, initially just to give some help but eventually I committed to it becoming part of my weekly schedule alongside attending Ayrshire College.
I volunteer two days a week, and sometimes nights, to help maintain and continue the hard work that goes on behind the scenes at Ayr Corps. I can confidently say I’ve never had a dull day. At first my role was to move things about and do as I was asked, but this has progressed so that some of my ideas have been put into action.
I haven’t met the whole team due to safety guidelines and the different days we work, but through the grapevine I hear that they are very hard workers. We have team members who interact with clients, which we’ve all had an opportunity to experience, and others whose main roles are storing food, rotating stock and delivering to other food banks. As the ‘brute strength’ of the group, I tend to slot into the delivering and stock-rotating roles. But it is here I have felt most useful and been able to experience new things and mix with people from diverse backgrounds.
A usual day for me would be going to one of the shops in Ayr, collecting the food and loading it into the car with Fiona, one of the corps soldiers. We take it back to the hall, where it is dated, sorted into boxes and stacked in the Sunday school room, which has been repurposed as a stock room due to high demand. We have been fortunate to be able to support a number of other organisations, such as various sheltered housing complexes and primary schools.
My favourite experience so far has been delivering food to a mosque in Kilmarnock where we made a good connection. The guys there are great and appreciative of our support. We had the opportunity to see their facilities and have seen first hand the hard work they do in their community, where they see a variety of people seeking help. Deliveries to the mosque are becoming regular and it has been great to be part of their community outreach programme.
I have recently been given a wee bit more responsibility, answering the phones and doors on days when the food bank is closed. I have met a wide range of people and improved my interpersonal skills. We have a great laugh at the food bank, so much that it doesn’t feel like a task. I enjoy going and I am grateful for the opportunity to develop myself by becoming a small cog in the machine that is the Ayr Salvation Army food bank.
I would encourage any young people reading this to volunteer. It is a great way to develop yourself and a good thing to put on your CV! More important than that, though, you are able to make a difference in the lives of other people.
Since writing this article Isaac has become an adherent at the corps.