31 July 2012
Friday the 13th may be unlucky for some but this July it signalled the first birthday of the wonderful partnership between FoodCycle and the Bromley by Bow Centre.
FoodCycle have been running the Centre's Pie in the Sky Café for the past year. FoodCycle are a charity combining volunteers and surplus food to create nutritious meals and positive social change in the community. Over the past year, FoodCycle has been serving delicious, hearty meals at affordable prices 9am – 2pm every week day from the Pie in the Sky Café.
And tasty food was the focus of the first birthday celebrations as Bob's Park was filled with lots of fun activities for the whole community such as apple bobbing, coconut shy, barbeque and cake decorating.
FoodCycle relies on volunteers who help in the café. As well as whipping up tasty meals the volunteers create a welcoming and fun atmosphere whilst gaining essential skills enabling them to find paid employment in the future. Over the past year the Pie in the Sky Café has helped many local volunteers move into paid employment, two of these volunteers were Hodan and Mohamed:
Hodan had been unemployed for over five years and was determined to get into work when she was referred to Food Cycle for volunteering by the Centre's employment service. After volunteering with FoodCycle at the Pie in the Sky Cafe for 14 months she is now employed in the Olympic Park.
"I was looking for references and paid employment in catering. I wanted to build my confidence. When I started to volunteer with FoodCycle, I gained confidence. I became more confident when I learned new skills." Hodan, Pie in the Sky Café volunteer
Mohamed was looking for opportunities to develop his English skills. Mohamed had a lot of experience working in Indian restaurants but was not able to practice his English speaking skills because most of his colleagues spoke English as a second language. Through volunteering with FoodCycle at the Pie in the Sky Café for six months, Mohammed improved on his English speaking skills and has now completed a course so that he can move into security. Mohamed is now getting support from one of the Centre's Employment Advisers as he applies for security roles.
Another Pie in the Sky Café volunteer said she's learnt how to "use food more efficiently so there is less or no waste" and has gained confidence by "working with other people who are of different ages and nationalities."
The Pie in the Sky café has become a community hub and meeting place for local residents. The Centre's Time Bank project holds their weekly Thursday coffee afternoons in the café and have found that this enables the project to be more accessible allowing members to pop in as well as being a great way for potential members who are passing to stop by and find out more.
Visitors to the Pie in the Sky Café throughout the summer can expect to see screenings of Olympic events encouraging local residents and centre staff to celebrate together as well as "The Royal Stamp Collection" portrait exhibition of striking images of some of Out and About members, the Centre's service for older people including Young@Art, Healthy Lifestyles and Grandparents' Group, all as part of the Centre's Extraordinary Festival.
If you'd like to find out more about FoodCycle or would like to volunteer at the FoodCycle Pie in the Sky Cafe, visit their website here.