Darren’s Story: From volunteering to a vital role in our Food For All Team
For me, the social connections are equally as important as part of the support the Food For All team provides as the food itself.
I started volunteering in 2012 for what was then called Good Mood Food after struggling with my own mental health problems, including depression and anxiety. Whilst going through my mental health journey, I found this really welcoming environment through volunteering. I was offered this administration role for Good Mood Food (now Food For All) in 2015. I’m responsible for inviting people to our sessions and general administration tasks.
During the pandemic, Good Mood Food was disrupted and had to close down. But then we began Food For All, which is unique to Manchester Mind. I grew up in the Warrington area and I feel a strong connection to Manchester more than any other place.
I love this job because mental health is a journey so it’s great to be in such an understanding workplace. It’s very rewarding because you can see and feel how you’re directly helping people.
At the moment we run weekly support sessions. Our Monday sessions are mostly for newer attendees with socialising and some food. Thursday’s sessions are usually for our more regular attendees, with a heavier focus on socialising, including arts and crafts.
We also run cooking sessions and other activities on a Tuesday, as well as providing emergency meal support and running our lovely therapeutic allotment.