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October-November 2019 | Regulars

Filling the hearts, minds and tummies

Filling the hearts, minds and tummies

Hear from Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland President, Donna Wallbank. Donna explains some of the many projects Rotary is involved in, and the importance of these to a community.

October is the month when we focus on economic and community development.

But that is an all-year Rotary commitment, and throughout the summer I saw the tremendous work across the country by Rotarians and community groups.

One example which springs to mind is Peter Bradley from Rotary Edgware & Stanmore in Middlesex, who work with FoodCycle.

This is a national charity, based on the basic idea that food waste and food poverty should not co-exist. Instead, something powerful can be achieved through eating together.

Loneliness can be averted. Sharing a meal not only fills the tummy, but it also fills the heart and mind.

Then there is CATCH (Community Action To Create Hope) in Leeds, pictured below, where I saw how Roundhay Rotary collaborated throughout the summer holidays to deliver a ‘Healthy Holiday’ programme.

CATCH (Community Action To Create Hope) volunteers

There, children, young people and families come together in their community, they have fun, whilst helping out at the ARK Community Café, and receive a meal in a safe environment.

I was impressed with how companies donated equipment and materials to make the centre a better place.

Ask that community how it is supported by people who care. Ask them about the free food shop where you pay if you have some money, take produce if you have none, and when you have something spare, you give back a little to help others who were in your position just a few days earlier.

Then look at the volunteers who cook meals from those donations – developing a community by using their skills, and learning new ones too. It is fantastic.

This amazing group receives food daily from supermarkets like Marks & Spencer and Sainsbury’s. Gardeners also donate their extra produce to those in need of this lifeline. So what about school holiday poverty – is it really there? Yes, it is.

Rotary groups are working collaboratively with the community groups, police and supermarkets, who give produce so children don’t go hungry.

Young people are being engaged to develop positive behaviours through programmes which develop social skills, while growing awareness of the part they can play in their communities.

My Rotary friends in Brynmawr are recipients of a Police Crime Commissioner grant to create engaging opportunities, but also forged a partnership with Morrisons who donate large crates of food which keep young people fed and engaged during the school holidays.

What about Greggs who, through Rotary clubs and community groups, donate their end of day produce to give sustenance all-year round? These food suppliers and supermarkets are no longer automatically sending their food to landfill sites – so surely, it is a win-win situation?

I truly believe this connection will change perceptions of who we are and what we do. It will bring new people to help us which, in turn, will develop the economic and social needs of other communities by the examples we set.”

There are so many examples where food poverty is being addressed in our communities. Not just for those who we immediately think of, such as the homeless, but also for those who would otherwise be lonely and hungry, who may not see anyone for days.

This is Rotary doing good and building our communities. In turn, we are developing new volunteers and giving hope to the parent who would otherwise not eat today since their children come first.

Rotary is engaging and enabling the right choices to be made. It is connecting those we know, to those we didn’t.

It is sad that these needs are there, but if Rotary and our partners were not, then who would do what I saw being done?

Rotary Connects the World, but this summer I saw first-hand a need being met by people who I am proud to call Rotarians in their communities.

I truly believe this connection will change perceptions of who we are and what we do. It will bring new people to help us which, in turn, will develop the economic and social needs of other communities by the examples we set.

It is sad that these needs are there, but if Rotary and our partners were not, then who would do what I saw being done?

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