In July 2021 Refuse received a grant from Karbon Homes, from their Community Grants Fund*, to “Make Volunteering Accessible” so we started the Access to Volunteering Scheme. This allowed us to fund 2 mentors to work for 8 hours each supporting volunteers 1 on 1 in the cafe. This has been incredibly useful for people like Jordan, who couldn’t access volunteering without a mentor’s support. Read Jordan’s interview below…
How did you first hear about the cafe?
J – My occupational therapist told me about it. I asked him to find me some voluntary work to help me get stronger and he found it for me.
Now that you’ve been volunteering for a while can you describe REfUSE in one sentence?
J – Amazing… It’s basically a charity cafe restaurant that takes wasted food from the big corporations like Tesco and ASDA and makes meals with it.
When you come to volunteer, what does a normal shift look like for you?
J – I clean the tables, barista, make and serve the coffees, basic customer service. I’m starting to use the till, I’m getting much better at that. Just be my own charming self really.
What are some things that might make accessing volunteering challenging for you?
J – I can’t really think of any challenges off the top of my head. The only one I would say is if it’s busier moving around the tables.
Would you feel up to telling us a bit about your disability?
J – I’ve got complete left-sided weakness, my whole left side’s knackered basically my left heel doesn’t plant on the floor so I walk with a bit of a wobble. I’ve lost complete use of my left arm, and I’ve got a thing in my vision called left-side neglect so I don’t see things on the left.
How do you find having a mentor work alongside you 1-1 has helped you access volunteering?
J – It’s helped me massively because Fran, my mentor, has really helped me settle in. She’s the best, I look forward to coming into the cafe just to see Fran.
For example, when you serve a customer what does Fran do?
JL – Fran’s there to kind of supervise and help me with the till if I can’t find things.
Were you nervous to start volunteering?
J – I was a bit cautious because of my disability with being on my feet for so long. It’s been such a long time since I’ve worked.
Do you feel like this has helped with your confidence?
J – Yeah, loads.
Do you have any goals or things you would like to achieve in the rest of your volunteering?
J – I’d like to be completely independent on the till.
Is there any advice you would give to a new volunteer?
J – Give it a few shifts and you will absolutely love it. Don’t be nervous, everyone is lovely. Thank you so much for being so accepting and taking me onto the team.
*Details of Karbon’s Community Grant fund can be found on the Karbon Homes website