26 May 2020

Staff chat - Darren

We caught up with our HomeFood Café Manager Darren to see how his work has changed since lockdown

Before the lockdown, what did a typical day at Wimbledon Guild look like for you?  

A typical day for me as Café Manager would involve getting in to the office just after 8:00am and doing an hour or so of admin work. I would then be helping Chris in the kitchen, along with our excellent volunteers, to prepare lunch for the day.

The role involved a lot of working with our volunteers, helping them get the most out of their time spent with us.

At about 11:00am we would receive our donations from Marks and Spencer. I would store any non-perishable food to give to families living in food poverty and would put the fresh produce out for people to take from the donations table.

I would then be front of house every day (except Tuesdays when Chris would do it) - meeting, greeting and taking orders from our customers. 

After Service it would be tidying up (my least favourite part of the day) and then cashing up, ready to go again the next day.


Did you interact with our customers?  

Yes, on a daily basis.


What have you been doing (work-wise) since the lockdown began? 

We made the decision to close the HomeFood Café a few days before the official announcement, to protect our customers. With the Café closed, I have been working on a range of projects for Wimbledon Guild. I was involved in the set up of the Covid-19 Merton Community Response Hub. This was a very busy time as it was all set up in a week and a half. I was managing and training a team of call handlers, as well as helping to develop policies and working practices for the Hub.

I worked with our Small Grants team to set up a food distribution service, distributing food parcels to people in food poverty across Merton. This has involved a lot of partners across Merton coming together to set up Merton's Community Fridge. 

I'm also part of Merton’s Food Poverty Response Partnership steering group, ensuring a coordinated response to helping people who are experiencing food poverty as a result of Covid-19 and also looking at the longer term response to ongoing food poverty.

Excitingly we have recently launched our home delivery service for HomeFood Café customers, bringing Chris' excellent cooking to people's homes.


What has it been like adapting to the change in how you do your job? 

My job has changed significantly, but I've been able to draw on previous experiences to get me through the new work I have been doing. It was nice to go back to Guild House to get the HomeFood Café going again.


Outside of work, what have you been doing to adapt to life under lockdown? 

Cooking, eating, drinking and running have kept me going. I have also been keeping in touch with friends and family.


Thank you Darren! We'll be catching up with other team members over the next few days, so do check back for more!

We need your help...

Socially isolated people across Merton are depending on us for immediate and practical support with food deliveries, telephone befriending and much more. In what is a difficult time for everyone, help us support vulnerable people who are likely to feel the impact most.