Here’s Some Food For Thought If You Want To Give Back

Laura has just finished her third year of Mathematics here at Coventry Uni. She’s also used her blogging skills to promote healthy eating and the Lanchester Library for UnCOVered. Now she’s back to offer advice on how to give back to the Coventry community through a very special initiative run by The Pod in Coventry…

I always hesitate to say that having mental health issues means you have an illness. We’re all suffering at one point or another because we’re always failing, learning and growing. I only recently heard that Coventry Council shared this opinion too.

They set up The Pod to support those in need of help with mental health, based at a site that acts as a hub for artists, activists and the wider community to join together to make positive societal change.

One thing they passionately believe in is the ability for food (both the growing and consumption of) to improve our overall wellbeing.

As a result, the Food Union was born. Among many things, its home is at The Pod Café, where they cook affordable, healthy, delicious (vegan) food that brings communities together. And, because they thoroughly enjoy watching people grow, they seek those passionate about food and cooking, to run the café in what they call a ‘takeover’.

Whether you’re trying to earn a little cash, test out new dishes you love for some public feedback or just want to provide wholesome meals to those who need it, it may well turn out to be the most heart-warming thing you ever do.

curryWith a £30 budget, my best friend and I headed to the Farmer’s Market (a hidden gem in Coventry!) to source local, cheap produce to cook up some yummy

We served two mains: creamy vegetable pasta and a chickpea korma with rice. For dessert, we baked cookies and made ‘nice’ cream from bananas! Did you know that blending frozen bananas creates an ice cream-like desert?

Cooking for everyone was amazing! We had help in the kitchen from several organisers and chefs who knew the customers so well that they knew what allergies to look out for, and worked the till whilst we focused on food. In just 2 hours we had earned £80 from generous buyers who offered constructive feedback on our food! We left feeling a part of something – just being a helping hand in running the café and supporting those who came to socialise warmed our hearts.vegan-ice-cream

After the event, they asked us whether we would be back again. We undoubtedly said yes. I haven’t found such strong community support elsewhere, and I really, really want to be one of those people that supports this kind of thing. Not only do we need more support for those suffering with mental health issues, but we need to prioritise and contribute to these services to ensure that they are successful and continue to grow. A charity can’t exist without its supporters.

As someone who is easily shaken, I was worried that it would be a complete catastrophe and that my cooking would not be good enough. Instead, it turned out that I barely needed cooking skills at all – the community were not expecting Jamie Oliver to feed them that lunchtime! Now, not only has it aided my confidence but also forced me to confront my fear of failure. It is a stepping stone to reaching my full potential, and I couldn’t be more grateful that services like this exist.

If just one person reads this and signs up to do a takeover, I’ll be over the moon. If you’re too scared to go it alone, feel free to email me or just gather up some friends to volunteer their time! If nothing else, it will be a fun test to see which of you is Gordon Ramsay in the kitchen 😉

Volunteering in the Coventry community can not only make you feel great, but add some real depth to your CV. If you’re looking for similar experiences, you can head to our website’s Employability Services section and check out the Uni’s teams dedicated to getting you trained up!