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Meet the Team: John, Collection Volunteer

FoodHub volunteers are the only reason we can do what we do. So we want you to meet some of the folk who regularly help us to achieve our goal of reducing food waste and fighting hunger in Norwich. So, meet John...

Could you introduce yourself to us, John?

My name is John Woodhouse. I grew up near High Wycombe and came to Norwich to attend UEA. I’ve lived in the City since the 80s, now with my wife and ten-year-old son. I have been a secondary school teacher of English and I’m currently an on-line tutor of secondary age students who cannot attend school. I’m a Norwich City season ticket holder, have an allotment on Bluebell Road and am quite active in local politics.

Why did you decide to sign up as a volunteer with FoodHub?

I started to collect food when NFH and Unite Community set up a project to provide lunches to kids in Mile Cross during the school holidays when free school meals aren’t available to them (which is still going, I’m pleased to say). I decided to become a regular collector and chose my local Co-Op on Earlham Road for convenience and in a spirit of localism.

I have been upset and unsettled by the poverty and hunger that plague the Fine City of Norwich and here was a chance to do something practical about them. My much-loved grandmother had two sayings that have always inspired me: ‘Waste not, want not,’ and ‘Don’t moan, do!’. Both seem perfectly apt!

Where and what do you normally collect?

I collect from The Earlham Road Co-Op every day except Mondays. The ‘take’ varies from day to day from one to four largish bags of food of things such as baked goods, fruit and veg. To my, untrained eye, the food looks edible and appetizing. It does strike me that the idea that this perfectly good food would otherwise be going to waste would have my grandmother spinning in her grave!

Was it easy to do a collection from the Coop the first time you volunteered?

I have always found the process of collecting completely straightforward. I have a NFH identity badge and, on my first visit, I simply ask any shop worker if there is anything for the Food Hub and they put me in touch with the manager who gives me what they have that day. At the Co-Op now, we have established a smooth routine: I turn up at the same time every day and the food is waiting for me. This works well for both the store staff and for me. Everyone is friendly and helpful. I positively enjoy my visits.

Do you have any tips, advice or encouragement for those who are not yet FoodHub volunteers but might want to get involved?

I think it’s important to make friendly relationships with the shop staff with whom we work. I try to do all I can to ensure that my visits disrupt their busy working days as little as possible. In fact I try to act part of their team – because, of course, that’s exactly what I am.

If you want to do something practical to improve the lives of those around us and to help roll back the tide of earth destroying waste, I can think of no better activity than volunteering to collect for NFH. It’s not a huge, dramatic thing to do; far less is it gesture politics. It’s the epitome of the old slogan: ‘Think global, act local’!


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