Volunteering to make a difference to people at this time and loving every minute of it: Celebrating Volunteers Week 2020


“It’s brilliant that not only are we supporting our customers, but we’re making a difference to people across Oldham and the region - and I’m loving every minute of it,” says Zerg Raja, one of our Stronger Communities Officers who has been volunteering with various local organisations throughout the coronavirus pandemic. He’s among our many staff volunteers who have swapped their day to day roles to support our community during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Throughout Volunteers Week 2020 1-7 June we’ll be celebrating their excellent work on our social media channels and telling their stories.

Today Zerg tells us about the volunteering work he’s been doing, and why it’s so important to him.

“I’ve been doing three main roles over the last few weeks: working at The Bread and Butter Thing (TBBT), who provide an affordable food service, warehouse; supporting at TBBT food services twice a week; and volunteering for Age UK Oldham – and I’m loving every minute of it.

“On Tuesdays I go down to TBBT’s warehouse in Trafford Park spend 8am-1pm sorting out food and packing it into bags ready to be loaded in TBBT vans for delivery. Before the pandemic, TBBT used to send vans of food to the collection points, and teams would pack the bags there. Because of the current situation they’ve to adapt the model to keep volunteers and customers safe, and prepacking the bags is part of this.

“A couple of days a week I help out at TBBT food services and afterwards do home deliveries to customers who are housebound or self-isolating to make sure they’ve still got access to affordable food. I’ve generally been supporting at Fridays at Wallshaw Street Community Centre and Saturdays at NEON Hub too. There’s a great community atmosphere and it’s a good opportunity to chat to our customers and see how they are doing at this time and what other help they might need

“I’m also supporting Age UK Oldham by running errands for their customers in my local area who are unable to leave their home and don’t have anyone else to call on for help. It can be anything from picking up groceries to collecting prescriptions. Whatever requests come in on the day, other members of the team and I jump on them and get them done.

“There are so many colleagues from around the business who want to do their bit right now and it’s great that work is giving us the flexibility to do this.

“I have First Choice Homes running right to the core of me and these opportunities are exactly the reason why I love working here. If you want to be part of the borough and help local people, then First Choice Homes is your route to that. There aren’t many other organisations more deeply rooted in Oldham than us.”

Volunteers’ Week is a celebration of the contribution that millions of people make across the UK through volunteering. Join us all week on Twitter and Facebook where we’ll be marking our Volunteering service’s achievements and thanking all our wonderful volunteers for giving up their time to help others.