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By Pam Brannigan

I volunteer at the Hitchin Pantry one afternoon a week, and undertake a number of tasks. As directed by our leader I help to stack the shelves with goods before the first customers arrive and I sometimes escort new customers as they shop explaining the system and emphasising that bread, fruit, vegetables and salads are unlimited once they have selected their ten items.

Along with another volunteer I also welcome customers who may have to wait for a short while offering them tea, coffee etc. along with soft drinks for children. Biscuits are also available and occasionally we have clothes and bric a brac which are offered to customers free of charge. I chat to customers as they wait and listen to what they have to say and at the end of the session I help to tidy up, put goods away and ensure that the premises are left in a tidy state.

I volunteer for a number of reasons: This particular project, the Hitchin Pantry, fulfils a real need in the town enabling people on low incomes to buy good food at a much reduced price. I am glad that this initiative by Caritas Westminster benefits the wider community in which I live and bears witness to our faith. Along with many Christians and people of other faiths and none I believe that sense of service enriches us all in our daily lives.

Volunteering for the Hitchin Pantry has had a considerable impact on my life. It has shown me at close quarters what can be done to assist people who have a limited income and puts me in a better position to engage with people who are unfamiliar with the struggle many people have to feed themselves and their families. It has enriched my own life by engaging with a very wide range of people.

The Hitchin Pantry  is a new community supermarket which allows its members to do their weekly shop for four pounds. Supported by the Cardinal's Lenten Appeal, the new pantry gives members the chance to shop with choice and dignity. Find a volunteering opportunity for yourself with Caritas Westminster Volunteer Service.