Graeme's hungry work
Name: Graeme Robbie
Job title: Development worker
Company: Community Food Initiatives North East (CFINE)
I normally get up around 7.30am. This can vary depending on what is needing done – for example, if there are deliveries to be done I get up around 4.45am. I allow myself about 10 minutes to catch up on the news, and scroll through Facebook. I have a quick shower, breakfast, brush my teeth – the usual stuff.
Once I get to work (normally around 8.30am), my morning duties involve receiving and documenting deliveries via the FareShare Network – we are currently redistributing around 25 tonnes of produce per month, stocking the food bank, organising daily deliveries out to Community Food Members (CFMs) in the city and shire, and replying to e-mails when I get a chance.
I don’t really take a lunch-break as such, just a sandwich at my desk or something like that. I do take a few minutes to check up on the news again and maybe read a quick article online. I administrate the CFINE website and social media, including Facebook and Twitter accounts, and we have seen a great response from the public when we have requested food donations or volunteers.
Our focus recently has been to get more orders for our fruit and veg
social enterprise (CFINE sells produce commercially to companies
and individuals, with all the profits being reinvested into our charity work). Sales have been hit hard by the recent downturn in the oil industry.
Afternoons often consist of meetings, organising the next day’s deliveries, collating stats and reports, and supporting our volunteers. We try to provide as much support as possible to those receiving food parcels, such as money/debt advice, help with housing and energy bills, and employability – so a lot of my time is spent co-ordinating this with colleagues.
Throughout the entire day there are always queries to be dealt with, volunteers needing to be supported, and delivered goods to be sorted and documented. I write myself a daily prioritised “to-do” list but often there aren’t enough hours in the day. It’s a pressured, busy environment but that’s why I enjoy it.
This afternoon I attended the Food Banks Partnership Aberdeen meeting, which brings together 37 organisations across the city dealing with food poverty. I took the minutes of this meeting, where we discussed various issues around the provision of food, and planned for the future. It’s also a
great opportunity to touch base with other colleagues tackling similar issues.
I normally get home around 5.15pm. To relax I enjoy producing music, reading, and seeing friends. There are often events that my colleagues and I attend in the evening. Recently there was a screening of a documentary film called The Divide at the Belmont Filmhouse, and CFINE was invited to take part in a post-screening panel discussion on issues like poverty, inequality, and social justice.
I think this kind of thing is really important in raising the profile of CFINE and the Food Banks Partnership. People often see Aberdeen as an affluent city – the “oil capital of Europe” – but there is real hardship here for so many. We gave out 800 emergency food parcels in October alone, a dramatic increase from a year ago. Since the downturn in the oil industry, we have increasingly seen people who have been made redundant using our food bank. Often people are just a few payslips away from a crisis.
The response we have seen from the public has been astonishing. I think people really understand the issues and its great seeing the local community engage.
In general, I find my job both interesting and rewarding. It’s pretty stressful and always busy, but the team really pulls together, and there’s always a bit of banter.