Women standing and wearing blue aprons

Meet the volunteers at the heart of the Waltham Forest food pantry.

Published: 14/04/2021

Our community pantry in Waltham Forest helps residents with food costs, supporting around 40 families each week. One resident told us: "I signed up because I wanted to save money and get help with my shopping. It helps with bills and it is value for money."

We asked local volunteers to share their experiences of volunteering at the pantry.


Kanez lives in Chingford and is currently working towards her Level 2 qualification in Food Hygiene and Safety.

"I enjoy meeting the customers who come in and enjoy putting out the stock, serving the customers, tidying up – just about everything in the Pantry. It's helped me refresh my skills. If you are out looking for work, volunteering will help enhance your CV and it's a very good experience. I did work in a shop a very long time ago but that wasn't to do with food, it was a shoe outlet, but some of the ways we deal with our stock like clearing up and bringing in new stock are similar."


Tai lives in Chingford Hall with her family which includes her children so she has been busy home-schooling. She completed her Level 2 Food Safety and Hygiene qualification while at the pantry and is about to begin a teaching assistant qualification.

"I signed up to volunteer at the pantry to help in my community. I enjoy everything. I like talking to the people coming in and helping them with their shopping. The work is good and I enjoy it a lot. It has helped me to improve my English so much. I think it is a good idea to volunteer in your community. You can get to know other people, build confidence and it brings people together. It helps you make friends in the neighbourhood."


Hassiba is passionate about volunteering and has been part of the pantry since it opened in August. She speaks multiple languages and hopes to offer informal French and Arabic classes there when social distancing rules allow.

"It's really important to help other people, especially those who are vulnerable. It's been a good way to get involved in the community. You get to know people at the pantry, I’ve been living here for nearly nine years and I didn't know all my neighbours. To anyone thinking of volunteering, I would definitely say: go for it! It's a very good deed you can do for your community and you can get experience as well and it can open up many opportunities if you volunteer for any organisation. It helps you and it helps others as well."


Jaqueline lives in Chingford Hall and has been involved in lots of community work, including coordinating the local mutual aid hot food delivery service at the start of the pandemic.

"I enjoy volunteering and helping others in the community I live in. The pantry is providing a great service. Especially with lockdown, for some people just one visit here changes their week. They look forward to it. We often get lots of people saying how much they enjoy being here. Even the little 5 or 10-minute conversation we can have at a distance, you can see it makes a difference."

If you would like further information about the Pantry at the Paradox Centre in Chingford, or the wider work of the Peabody Community Foundation team in the borough, please email us or call Ellie on 020 3544 9449

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