Taking time to make time
Rose from Belfast explains why she makes time to volunteer with Mary's Meals
I’ve been involved in charity work since the age of sixteen, but I’ve found Mary’s Meals to be a breath of fresh air. It’s a Scottish charity, which started in a shed in response to the war in Bosnia in the 90s and grew to become an established non-profit that today supports more than 1.1 million of the world’s poorest children by giving them a daily meal in school.
From age sixteen to eighteen I volunteered at a charity bookshop in Belfast. I loved being part of an organisation that had a global impact, and I worked my way up to volunteer manager as well as holding down a part time job and studying for my A-levels.
Even when life gets busy, volunteering has always been something that enriches me. When I came to Glasgow for university, I got involved with the Queen Margaret Student Union’s charity committee doing grassroots fundraising and awareness raising.
Towards the end of first year I was looking for hands-on volunteering opportunities that would allow me to do something more. Coincidentally, I got talking to a girl at the university gym who was working with Mary’s Meals and told me they were looking for office volunteers. We swapped email addresses and the rest is history.
I’ve been volunteering with Mary’s Meals for the last 9 months and absolutely love it. I work with the Media and Communications team, and have done everything from tracking down celebrities to quiz them about porridge, to phoning some of the most remote cinemas in the UK, to overcoming my fear of public speaking to give a talk to a whole church. Mary’s Meals has given me invaluable office experience, plenty of chat and, of course, countless cups of tea!
In the current global climate it can be easy to feel overwhelmed and hopeless. However, working with the Mary’s Meals team has made me realise how much can be achieved when we all give a little of what we can. It still amazes me that it only costs £13.90 to feed a child with Mary’s Meals for a whole school year.
Even if you can‘t afford to donate, there are so many other ways to help. I briefly worked on the reception desk at the Glasgow office last summer and it was incredible to hear people phone in from across Scotland, the UK, and beyond, all keen to help people they will never meet yet care for so deeply.
For me the crucial thing about Mary’s Meals is its way of operating. Mary’s Meals prides itself on its low overheads. 93% of donations are spent directly on charitable activity and there is a wage cap for all staff, even the charity’s founder.
As a student I can’t afford to give much money to charity, so it’s good to know that when I help Mary’s Meals my contribution has a much bigger charitable impact than it might have had elsewhere.
I’ll be leaving Scotland in September to study abroad at the University of Dalhousie in Canada – and I’ve just been told that the Mary’s Meals movement is thriving over there, so who knows, maybe I’ll give them a call to see if they’re looking for a young, enthusiastic student volunteer!