The early bird gets the worm. In the case of this Give Volunteering a Go opportunity, the early birds were a group of students rising before the sun, and the ‘worm’ was a fantastic experience volunteering at the Whitechapel Mission’s Breakfast Challenge!
Although 5.15am is not the easiest meeting time to make, everyone was right on time – this was a first in the years that I have led volunteering groups to the Mission, so we were already off to a great start.
On arriving to Whitechapel, we were welcomed into the warmth of the Whitechapel Mission kitchen. The staff are always bright and cheerful despite the early hours. Their energy is infectious and we got to work with gusto, dividing into pairs and manning stations to cook each part of the breakfast plate. Tea and coffee were served straightaway. The rest of us got to work toasting and buttering bread, opening cans of beans, tomatoes and mushrooms and getting our deep fry-on with eggs, sausages and hash browns.
Upbeat music and silly pranks played by the staff made the time pass quickly. Not only did we serve food, but we passed on donations of clothing and toiletries. We handed out face towels, soap and toothpaste so clients could undertake their morning routines.
By chatting with the clients whilst serving their breakfast, we were able to learn more about them and their lives. The Whitechapel Mission is open every day of the year to help the homeless.
One volunteer commented that this was the first time he had experienced working with the homeless and that he had not expected to meet people who were so friendly and interesting. He went on to say: “This just goes to show that we share more similarities than we might initially think”. As always, it was a pleasure to help out at the Mission, but it was especially heartwarming to see the enthusiasm of all the student volunteers in making a positive difference to our community.