Volunteer profile: Livia

Sorting produce for a food distribution charity.

I’m Livia…

I am a senior project engineer (civil) in Infrastructure Projects Southern Development (part of Network Rail) and I have worked on projects such as Crossrail 2 and Brighton Mainline Upgrade. I ensure that designs meet the requirements and standards right from early stages. I also belong to the Sustainability Working Group within IPSD which specifically looks into how we can develop sustainable designs.

I wanted to volunteer my time by participating in something that is also linked to sustainability, ideally something that I care most about under this big theme. I also wanted to do something that is different from my day job and which would allow me to work with people from other communities.

What did I do?

I spent my time with a charity called FareShare, which collects excess food produce from places such as supermarkets and bakeries, and redistributes to other charities that then make meals for those in need, such as homeless people.

The produce FareShare receives includes fresh food – not just dried or tinned food. The charity constantly needs volunteers to help sort the produce that comes into their warehouses around the country and make it ready for delivery or collection by other charities every day.

What did I give and get?

I helped in the warehouse of FareShare London, in Deptford. When trays of food arrived, my main task was to sort them according to types and use-by dates. Food that has short shelf life, such as bread and milk, should be redistributed as soon as possible.

I also helped with picking food according to the food request order forms so that they were ready for delivery or collection.

The idea is to redistribute resources that would otherwise be thrown away. By getting involved I am helping to fight hunger, to better distribute resources that are already there, and to reduce waste. These are all things that I personally care about.

What have I learnt?

That there are many opportunities where we can give more to the community. Through my time with FareShare I’ve also learnt about the work of other charities, such as Youth with a Mission – one of its projects involves young people preparing meals for those in need in the community.