Banking on Social Investment

A recent write up I did for a volunteering day some of my colleagues went on. NB – names and some details have been changed.

Banking on Social Investment

There are many reasons why people work for the same Financial services provider as myself but I’ll be quite frank with you, a mini-seminar on all the places a use-by date can be displayed on a tin of Tuna, that didn’t make my top three.

‘It can be on the top, the bottom, the label…’

‘Controversial.’

‘I know!’

It felt less like I was talking to a Project Manager with years of experience, but more my company’s answer to a WI revival.

I’d caught up with Lily* to find out more about the Risk Squad’s recent social investment day at the Swindon Food Collective. An independent food bank with over sixty volunteers, the charity offers food parcels to people who are facing a crisis and feeds almost 5,500 people a year. Sharon was part of a ten strong team of colleagues from across the Squad who, for one day, decided to ditch the board packs for packing boxes in very fetching hi-vis jackets.

Everyone had a role to play, from food voucher administration, to checking the sell-by dates on food-stuffs extended beyond May 2020. The contents of each food parcel were surprisingly strict; 80 tea bags, 500g pasta, meat content of 40%, firm rules needed to ensure fairness to everyone receiving a parcel.

‘Did you know those tinned Fray Bentos pies don’t have a high enough meat quantity to pass the test?’ Sharon asked.

‘Wow.’

‘Exactly! I didn’t know they still existed either!’

I wasn’t going to comment that I felt quite sure I had an emergency Bentos pie in the back of my kitchen cupboard.

‘And as for Bob*, what was he up to?’

‘Oh, he found himself at home sorting through the toiletries.’

‘Bob? On shampoo?’

Lily laughed. ‘It was his happy place!’

The more I chatted with Lily over a vending machine coffee the more I wished I’d been there to have seen it for myself. A well-oiled team, where everyone had a part to play and took on the tasks with a sense of collective spirit. It’s perhaps no surprise that by the end of the day the group managed to sort through more than the large number of boxes set aside by the charity.

‘Did Bob tell you he’s signed us up to help out next year?’

‘Wait, he was referring to December 2020?’ I responded in surprise.

‘I’ve already booked my spot. It was so much fun, and it got us talking about a lot of issues sounding austerity and homelessness. We learnt a lot.’

As I sat in one the office’s comfy seat areas with the poster-clad notice boards and suited colleagues, I couldn’t help but feel that some days my life was a little removed from reality.

‘You know, I think I’ll sign myself up too,’ I said to Lily as we started wondering back to our desks. ‘A year to prepare, I even think I might have something in my cupboard I can bring with me…’

You can find out more about the Swindon Food Collective by visiting their website:

https://www.swindonfoodcollective.org/

Swindon Food Collective

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