RESIDENT BLOG: Volunteering for coffee club has made a difference to me and residents
My father Len was my guiding light. At his funeral one of his WWII Commando Comrades gave the eulogy. He said “I never knew Len knowingly do anyone a bad turn.” I have tried to emulate him ever since.
When I first moved into the Oldfield Estate almost 11 years ago, I considered myself extremely fortunate to be living in such a beautiful environment at such a reasonable rent. I decided to do as much as I could to show my appreciation. Volunteering was the answer. I looked at all the possible ways I could “get involved”. I was Chair of the Residents Association for some time and then was Chair of the Resident Scrutiny Panel for three years. At one of the Working Group meetings, John Sutton and I suggested resurrecting the “Coffee Club” at Oldfield Estate. In the past the coffee club was run on an ad hoc basis by residents serving instant coffee and tea bags with a few sandwiches and cakes, depending on what was donated on the day. With support from C&C, we purchased a Barista Coffee machine and a music centre. We were now ready to go. John and I made the decision to serve cakes, pastries etc. I thought it would be safer if I got a Food and Hygiene certificate, which I did. We made a conscious decision to keep the prices as low as possible but still make a profit. We agreed with residents to donate the profits to Macmillan Nurses. As we grew in numbers and popularity, we made even more profit. It was decided to extend our food range to toasted sandwiches - the sandwich maker was generously supplied by C&C. Later we extended the range further to a full English breakfast. With us earning much more money than first expected, we decided to split our profits between three charities: Macmillan Nurses, Great Ormond Street Hospital and Blue Cross (the animal charity). In the last year alone, we’ve raised over £800! Our greatest success has been seeing those people who had seldom left their flats now laughing and enjoying themselves. The great sense of community spirit and enjoyment is reward enough for me, and I think I speak for John as well. Until you have volunteered to help you cannot know how rewarding it can be. Try it, you will like it!
When we went into lockdown, John and I agreed that the money we had left in the kitty should be sent as a donation to the NHS Nurses. So many residents were very disappointed at the suspension of the coffee club and have consistently, during the past months, asked “When is the coffee club opening up again?” Of course, we will open again once it is safe to do so. In the meantime, the C&C team have been working to create new volunteer roles as well as putting on virtual activities and even some outdoor exercise – safely managed of course.
I am secretary of the Commando Association (London Branch) and Membership Secretary / Treasurer of the National Branch, so during the lockdown I have had plenty of time on my hands for that.
I have always had a good relationship with C&C and have kept this up during the present crisis e.g. I sing in the Choir (currently virtual!).
David Justice, resident, Oldfield Estate.
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