In each newsletter, we shine a light on an individual who plays an important role in the operations of Cambridge City Foodbank. This month, we spoke to Sharon Straughan, a volunteer who many of you will know, as until recently, worked at the Foodbank as our Support Services Administrator. Read on to learn about Sharon’s background, why she chose to continue volunteering with us and what she enjoys doing in her spare time!
Can you tell us a bit about your life prior to joining Cambridge City Foodbank?
I completed my Legal Practice Course in York and then went to work as a Solicitor – I was based in Chelmsford for a few years before moving back to Cambridge. Once I had my children, I changed jobs and worked in schools whilst they were growing up as this enabled me to work only during term time.
What was your role as an employee of the Foodbank?
I started working at the Foodbank as maternity cover for Heather, our Operations Manager. My role was to look at the long-term picture of the Foodbank and help our visitors secure the support needed to move away from food insecurity. This included recruiting agencies to come to our welcome centres to provide additional advice to our visitors. Some of the agencies included Winter Comfort, Peterborough Environment City Trust (PECT) and P3. Now, visitors also have access to Citizen’s Advice.
What is your role as a volunteer?
I was actually a volunteer prior to providing maternity cover for Heather; I started during the Pandemic when I knew people were struggling. My friend was the team lead at the time and they needed some additional help. She then had to return to work and I stepped into her shoes. I’m now volunteering on Thursdays at one of our welcome centres, where I chat to visitors, process their vouchers and provide them with an emergency food parcel.
What made you decide that you wanted to continue volunteering at the Foodbank?
When I first started volunteering with the Foodbank I didn’t know much about the charity, but once I started, I was hooked! I really enjoy my time helping people, initially as a volunteer and then as an employee. The work Cambridge City Foodbank does is so rewarding and being able to give back to the local community is such a good feeling. When my employment with the Foodbank came to an end, I knew that I wanted to continue regularly volunteering.
What do you enjoy doing while you’re away from the Foodbank?
I love reading and going to the gym, and I volunteer at Arthur Rank Hospice on a Wednesday as a lunchtime receptionist. I also love going to see live music and I’m currently learning Spanish, albeit very slowly!
If there is someone who is considering volunteering with the Foodbank for the first time, or volunteering again after taking some time off, what would your words be to them?
Definitely give it a go! You’re going to be working with inspiring people who are friendly and supportive. Giving something back to the community is a truly rewarding experience that I’d recommend to everyone.