Thiago is a journalist from Brazil, who came to Birmingham temporarily to work on a British Red Cross project with refugees. Alongside this, he also decided to volunteer with The Active Wellbeing Society (TAWS)’ Community Food Project.

Thiago found out about our Big Feed Project’s Community Cafes, and decided to use his love of cooking as a Community Cafe volunteer. His role involved helping to prepare, cook and serve delicious meals in the Cafes, which are made from surplus food that would otherwise go to waste, as well as giving out extra surplus such as fruit, vegetables, and bread.

Each month, our cafes distribute around 900 meals, and save 480kg of food from going to waste. Volunteers like Thiago support our busy teams in ensuring people can enjoy a hot cooked meal when they visit, increasing social connection with others in the community, whilst reducing food waste.

“I thought working in a project that helps the community could be something good to do…I love to cook and there I was helping in a kitchen with nice colleagues.”

He found giving food to members of the community a satisfying experience. He tells us, “it was so nice to give people hot meals and other food. Food is something that’s really important in my family, it’s our culture and there’s a huge significance, so that is the reason why I was happy to help vulnerable people to get good food for free.”

Although Thiago’s first language isn’t English, he discovered he could use the experience to improve his English whilst working in a diverse team of staff and volunteers. Thiago’s love of food, and passion for feeding others transcended any language barriers he faced.

He says, “Working with British people and people from other countries definitely was the best and most important part. I was helping, speaking in English (which is not my first language) and doing something that I like, cooking… Being a volunteer in a different country from mine…definitely was something unforgettable.”

Thiago’s interest in volunteering came from his desire to help others and give back to communities. He explains that he thinks “it is our obligation help people if we don’t need help, because someday it could be us that needs the help. This is being empathic… being human.”

After his positive experience, Thiago wants to continue volunteering whilst he now looks for work back home in Brazil. He also wants to encourage others to get involved, “I hope this project will help more and more people and the volunteers will enjoy it as much as I did…Life is so short, and we have a chance to make a difference in someone’s life. Being a volunteer is a good start.”

Our Community Cafes are a friendly, welcoming space for volunteers and people who would like to come and enjoy a nutritious cooked meal with others. Volunteers help the busy Cafes run smoothly by helping to prepare, cook and serve meals, guided by qualified chefs and working in a supportive team. Find out more about this opportunity here.