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Karen Barnaby

"I have met some wonderful people and made new friends"

Originally from Australia, where she completed an Advance Diploma of Nutrition, Karen came to the UK six months ago. Karen found out about The Food Chain while searching on the internet for cooking or nutrition based volunteering roles. She has volunteered as a Host, Kitchen Assistant and Nutrition Assistant at Eating Together.

"I feel like I can make a difference to others by giving just a small amount of my time. I enjoy being part of a community of like-minded people and that I get to share my passion about nutrition and food.

"My grandparents were from England and I have always wanted to spend some time over here. One of my aims once I moved here was to get involved in the community and do some volunteering. I was keen to find something that involved nutrition or cooking. I discovered The Food Chain online then found out friends of friends had volunteered here and loved it.

"The Food Chain appealed to me because it combined my love of food & cooking and I also thought there might be an opportunity for me to put my nutritional background to use in a volunteer setting. The Food Chain services run on various days in the week and on Saturdays which suited me really well when I wasn’t working and also when I did get a job. The training you get before you start is excellent and there’s the opportunity to take on different roles and learn new skills."

Karen goes onto to describe a typical shift as a Nutrition Assistant at Eating Together on a Saturday:

"I arrive and get started by putting the raffle food packs together, which contain all the ingredients to make the recipe of the day. The recipe will form part of the nutrition talk given to the service users on that day. Once the packs are ready I help out with the hosts to set up the dining area with setting the tables ensuring they are all ready for lunch. Once this is done the service users start to arrive so it’s a chance to hi and chat with everyone about their week and news. Come 12pm I give my nutrition talk which can sometimes be quite lively with lots of discussion and interaction.

"After the talk we draw the raffle and a five service users get to take home the food packs so they can make the recipe at home. Then it’s time for lunch and once again it’s a great time to chat with everyone and enjoy the meal - which is always delicious!

‘I have met some wonderful people and made new friends.  It also a great way to meet new people, and you will always finish a shift with a smile on your face!"