In one of our previous newsletters, we mentioned that we were looking to recruit a new Operations and Outreach Officer to help support our volunteers in Distributions Centres, Fairbite Clubs and the Warehouse. We’re delighted to share that the position has now been filled and are able to introduce you to the newest employee of Cambridge City Foodbank, Jemma Strachan.
Read on to learn more about her roles and responsibilities at the Foodbank, her background, experience, and more.
How have your first few days at the Foodbank been?
They’ve been really good, thank you! The Foodbank has been operating for a long time and it’s a very well-oiled machine, run by a lot of inspiring people. For my first few days, I’ve been learning about the ins and outs of how the Foodbank functions; there have been quite a few things to remember, but I’ve been well supported by our fantastic team. It’s been so nice spending time with the volunteers too – they’re all the most wonderful people and it’s amazing to see the different skills that they all bring to the Foodbank.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background.
Throughout my life, I’ve lived in multiple countries and have been employed in a number of different fields. I was born in Cyprus and lived in the UK, Brunei and Sudan when I was growing up before moving to Holland as an adult. I’ve also lived in a few different places in the south of England. In terms of jobs, it’s been varied! Amongst other things, I’ve worked as an airline stewardess, in science labs and various different operational positions. I also have five years experience working in the homeless sector. For the last two and a half years, I worked for Cambridge County Council where I was a support worker. Prior to that I was the Project Coordinator for the Cambridge Churches Homeless Project, coordinating the winter night shelter hosted by church and a synagogue across the city and, akin to the Foodbank, it would not have run without the many volunteers that made it happen. Following the recent expiration of my contract with the County Council, I decided to apply to join the Foodbank and now I’m here!
What is it about Cambridge City Foodbank that made you want to join?
Through the work in my last two roles, I had quite a lot of encounters with the Foodbank, where I was able to support people through issuing food vouchers, and on occasion, collecting their food parcels on their behalf. This allowed me to see the important work that the Foodbank was doing across the city and the impact that it has on the vulnerable. I’ve also worked with Heather Yeadon, our Operations Manager, in the past – it’s great to have the opportunity to work with her again. My position is incredibly varied and allows me to use all of my experience gained from previous places of employment. So, I’m most definitely not going to be bored!
Can you tell us a bit about your role at the Foodbank?
My role is different every day. I will be working with Heather on supporting the Distribution Centres with their work and looking at ways we can do the best job at supporting our visitors. I’m also going to be increasingly involved with the Fairbite shops and I step in when there are any gaps in our volunteer rotas; one day I might be jumping in the van to run some stock to a distribution centre, the next I might be supporting in the warehouse! It is also my responsibility to ensure that our signposting is kept up to date, engage with community groups about our work, complete surveys with the Foodbank visitors, support the inclusion and development of those experiencing food poverty and lots more. I’m going to be a bit of a jack of all trades!
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not at work?
I’ve got a couple of dogs – a Border Collie cross and a Romanian rescue. They keep me very busy; I love going on long walks with them. My faith is important to me and I regularly volunteer with my local church on Sundays. I enjoy a bit of camping from time to time, although I’m partial to relaxing without a tent in a hotel from time to time too! I’m also a site team coordinator for a grass roots music festival called KingsStock, which takes place near St Ives – if you enjoy listening to music in a relaxed atmosphere, I’d love it if you’re able to attend.