Give up Lent

I’ve never observed Lent and can’t say that I’m particularly keen on voluntary deprivation for 40 days. However, when a friend challenged me to give up an item for each day, be it clothing, a book, CD, to others, I thought it the perfect opportunity to have a clear out.

I can find it difficult to part with items and having to clear my desk of 9 years during this time showed me that it’s not just at home that I hold onto things I’m sure I’ll ‘need’ at some stage; you know like my quit smoking planner from 2013!

The first few days of the challenge were a breeze, I was having some plastering done at home so needed to clear out the bedroom. As the days went on it became more of a struggle, being unable to part with any more clothes, I turned my attention to books, CDs, videotapes- yes you read right, kitchen utensils, make up.

Where did this stuff go I hear you ask. I’m sure we are all beginning to appreciate that nothing is really binned, something also ends up somewhere, often in landfill. Well I used our local authority recycling service for fabrics, books. I donated to mobile libraries; I feel less guilty about still not having returned the books that I’ve borrowed now! I donated to charity shops; I was little reluctant as some seem so inundated with donations that they can be choosy as to what they will take. I came across one on my way to work who couldn’t have been any more appreciative of what I gave them including a garden light and an oil painting. I listed nail polish on Olio, it’s not only for sharing foods, not before one of my bestie’s had first dibs mind.

The most random item that I parted with was a pair of boxer shorts, new, still in their packaging, that I found at the back of my wardrobe. I packed them in my work bag with the intention of donating to the ever grateful charity shop, when I spotted a homeless man sat at the train station. I apologised in advance if I was going to cause any offence but explained that I had a pair of unworn boxer shorts if he’d like them. He nodded and I handed them to him. As I carried on to work, it occurred to me that I’d never thought about what the homeless do for clean underwear. It’s something that I take for granted on a daily basis.

The 40 days brought home that there will always be someone who can reuse what we no longer need, even my quit smoking planner can be recycled. We can become so preoccupied with what we have in our homes that we can lose sight of those outside who go without. For the food that we are too full to eat someone will be hungry for, The clothes that we think are worn could meet another being warm. I feel like I cheated Lent, as whilst I observed the 40 days, it didn’t feel that there was much sacrifice involved. In fact it made me realise just how much I still have.


Food Run

The Big Half marathon 10/03/2019

I remember running much of this route when I ran London marathon in 2017. During that race, running half a marathon was put to the back of my mind whilst I focused on when the race would really start; mile 20.

I remember still smiling through the rain when I ran my first London race, the British 10K in the summer of 2012; this morning it was high speed winds.

I remember my sister warning that I’d be sick as I tucked into a buffet breakfast ahead of Florence marathon. I wasn’t sick and nor was I today after eating a veggie burger bap enroute to the start line; not that I recommend either of these fuelling practices!

I remember when today’s finish time would have filled me with frustration and disappointment. Today I was high as a kite with what seems to be me turning a corner from an iron deficiency.

I remember so many highs and lows of running from over the years. Going back to school sports days; I was the reigning 100 metre champion in my year I’ll have you know! What I don’t remember is ever going hungry. I don’t mean the self induced hunger to drop a dress size in a week. Or on the commute home when dinner is so near yet still too far. Nor do I mean the many times that I’ve exclaimed I’m starving and demanded to be fed immediately.

I mean the hunger of not knowing when, or if, you’ll next eat. Having to make a choice between food and another essential. Having limited choices of the foods that you eat. I’ve never known the physical pain that comes with hunger. I’ve never known weight loss as a window to my deprivation.

It’s the remembering how fortunate that I am to run and have food choices which led me to run The Big Half marathon for food waste/food poverty charity The Felix Project. And what a fantastic day it was. One that I won’t forget in a hurry!

Check out their link below and see how you can get involved:-

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Good Food for Good Causes

I first came across The Felix Project in the summer of 2017. A wellness event that I attended were donating their proceeds to The Felix Project and being curious I looked them up online. It sounded like a cool concept; a charity which collected surplus food that would otherwise be wasted, and redistributed to homeless shelters. At the time, I was interested in volunteering with a food waste/food poverty charity which would allow me to cook on premises. I figured it would be a good way of improving my culinary skills whilst helping others, so thought The Felix Project wasn’t quite what I was looking for.

A week or so later, I was in Sainsbury’s, on a yellow sticker shop, when I spotted a flyer for The Felix Project and noticed that they had a warehouse in North West London, which was easy enough for me to get to. Taking this as a sign, I thought what have I got to lose by getting in touch with them, so I did. I couldn’t make their induction day so development manager Anne suggested that I co-drive a route and see how I got on. It was great; driver Ross was good company, we took in the sights of West London, whilst collecting from places like Gail’s Bakery and dropping the food off to hostels. It was really humbling seeing first hand where the food was delivered to, and knowing that many of these people were waiting on us to eat. I can’t imagine having to be dependent on others for my next meal. Grenfell Tower was in full view as we drove over the Westway; if there was ever a time we were invoked to come together as a community this was it.

Some weeks later when Anne asked if I was available to drive, I thought she’d lost her damn mind. I mean I reckon myself a pretty decent driver but I wasn’t a van driver. She invited me to the warehouse before the shift to take my licence details and to go on a test drive. “I don’t know what you was worrying about, you are doing great” she said, and she was right, I had been fretting unnecessarily. The vans are a breeze to drive and made all the more easier with the introductions of zipvans, electric vehicles; they even offer walking and cycling routes.

I’ve volunteered as driver and co driver regularly since 2017. Having the flexibility of booking in for shifts, as and when I’m available, works really well for me being able to fit it in around work and other commitments and has lent itself to my still being motivated 18 months later. Aside from being out on routes, there are opportunities to volunteer in the warehouse. I’ve volunteered at events and am on The Felix Project team running The Big Half marathon in March; raising money and awareness.

They really are a fantastic charity who are so appreciative of any help that they receive and look after their volunteers; you’ve not eaten until you’ve attended a Felix Project party and of course taking home a doggy bag is encouraged. You see food and our need to eat is what we all have in common; it’s a basic human function that cuts across gender, race, class, religion. Unfortunately, social disadvantage can too easily affect our access to food and allow too many to go hungry.

It was Felix’s upset that there were children at his football tournament who hadn’t eaten that day which inspired the project, after his death, in his memory. The Felix Project’s mission of lessening food waste and poverty is what keeps it going. Knowing I’ve never regretted undertaking a shift is what makes me sign up for the next. What will be your reason for sparing some time for this cause?

Sign up to volunteer with The Felix Project.