The Covid-19 crisis has brought lots more work to do at Eggcup: new projects, with new deliveries and pick-ups, lots more food to check, weigh, sort and package, more demands for data and reports. Fortunately it also brought more volunteers.
When lockdown began, many people on furlough were looking for satisfying things to do, and many people who would usually volunteers elsewhere found their regular work cancelled. We got a remarkable range of people coming to Eggcup: a coach driver, a plumber, civil servants, a human relations consultant, students, teachers. We also got help from members of the Big Kid Circus, which was stranded on Morecambe Promenade from March until a few weeks ago, unable to do their acrobatic work or go on to new performances.
Every new volunteer gets about an hour of training with Phil, the Operations Manager, before they do anything. He starts with what Eggcup is, what it does and what our values are. Everyone has to learn about food hygiene and health and safety, including Covid-10 safe practice. Each new volunteer tries it out for a day, to see if they like it and can do it, before taking on a regular slot.
One might think there would also be a hierarchy of people telling volunteers what to do. But when I went to the warehouse this week, I saw people just got on with the next thing. Jay, the Floor Supervisor, says the important thing is for volunteers to understand the purpose of the activities, instead of giving a direction for each task. He and Phil do have a list of tasks on the whiteboard that they direct volunteers towards. I see people glancing back to it for numbers. Jay explains that it’s important for volunteers to understand how the individual tasks contribute to the overall purpose of the day’s scheduled work. Once a volunteer has the overall picture, they have the autonomy to get on with tasks without always needing to be told what to do next. When I was last there, a lot of food was piled on a table outside, ready for sorting. A sudden rain shower came along and everyone, without any shouting or fuss, dropped what they were doing, picked up crates and got them inside before they got wet.
Now the furlough is winding down and some people are going back to work, we are losing some of these volunteers. But others are joining. We have a range of tasks that need doing: warehouse work, driving to collect food and deliver to members, and customer service in our up-coming town-centre hub. If you are interested in volunteering, call the office on 01524 389584.