Remote Volunteering – Something To Suit Everyone

Remote working, hybrid working, home based working – the pandemic has hastened a move to more flexible ways of working that are proving to be more convenient, good for our wellbeing and family friendly. However, it’s not just paid employment that is seeing this positive shift, the world of volunteering is becoming much more flexible offering many home based and remote volunteer roles.

At Food Train our Connects service has many such opportunities, let me tell you about a few – we offer a fantastic home based opportunity to become a ‘Phone Friend’ , you would be matched up with an older person who you would call for a weekly a chat. The calls usually last between 30 mins and an hour and can happen at any time of the week that suits both you and your phone friend.

Another amazing opportunity is to become one of our ‘Online Shoppers’ you would be paired up with an older person who requires an online shopping placed for them, you would call them at a regular, agreed time to chat through their shopping list and place the order for them online. Or how about being one of our ‘Shopping Companions’? You would be paired with an older person in your local community to take them out to do their own grocery shopping, the day and time you do this would be agreed between the two of you alternatively you could be ‘Shopping Friend’ – going to do an older person’s shopping for them and taking it to their home.

Then there is our meal sharing service, we recruit volunteer cooks who will provide a home cooked meal, once a week, to an older person in their local area. It’s a lovely opportunity, just make an extra portion of the family meal you are making anyway and deliver to the older person you are paired with.

That’s not all! There is also the chance to be one of our ‘Telephone Supporter’ volunteers, these volunteers can help with various different tasks including phoning several older people to collect their shopping lists or checking in on them and their volunteers to ensure the service they are receiving from Food Train is all going well.

Not only do all these roles ensure that older people are given the support and friendship they need but all roles are flexible, remote and home based, no requirement to come in to our Food Train offices. Recruitment, induction and training are all completed remotely too.

At Food Train our mission is to support older people to eat well, age well and live well in their own homes as long as they wish, anyone interested in helping us with our mission by joining our team of amazing remote volunteers can find out more and sign up here

There really is something for everyone.


Soup, soup, soup…

Who knew a simple bowl of soup could be the catalyst for amazing community development and support?  Well the people of Detroit Soup knew, that’s who.

In 2012 Amy Kaherl of  Detroit Soup held the first soup event. A $5 donation at the door, you listen to 5 community initiatives pitch for your vote, you enjoy your bowl of soup and bread, you vote for your favourite and the winner gets the takings from the door.  That’s it! Simple! Brilliant!

Fast forward to 2016 in Stirling, Scotland and Kathryn Welch is leading her team of volunteers to launch the first ever Stirling Soup. On the evening of Friday 27th May 2016 the Albert Halls in Stirling was packed to standing room only. I was lucky enough to be the first of the five pitchers that evening making the case for  Contact the Elderly tea parties combatting social isolation among older people. I was followed by Nikki from Couthie Cantie telling us about her Community Cook School aiming to inspire and teach ‘scratch cooking’ skills. Third up on stage was Rosie from The Conservation Volunteers explaining the notion of a Green Gym where volunteers help with tree and meadow planting and wildlife conservation. Next we heard from Sandra from Bridge of Allan Community Council who have plans to raise awareness of their newly refurbished play park by holding a celebration fun day.  Finally it was the turn of Savi and Lesley from Stirling Citizens for Sanctuary. This group are doing marvellous work with refugees coming into the Forth Valley area by providing befriending, interpretation services and practical and material support.


The crowd then enjoyed the delicious bowls of soup and bread on offer from Sprinkle Happiness and Riverside Bakery. Music was provided by the University of Stirling Live Music Society and, as an added treat, Lush were also ‘on hand’ to do hand massages. This gave everyone time to chat to the pitchers further and make up their minds about their vote.  At the end of the day Savi and Lesley from Stirling Citizens for Sanctuary were the very worthy winners and went away with the pot of money from the door containing £630!

It’s a wonderful, simple initiative and for all the pitchers it was an excellent opportunity to get our projects out there in the public arena and to be able to chat to the very receptive audience about the work that we are doing.  Soup is indeed the catalyst for community initiatives, development and support, there was so much good will and desire to help improve the local community amongst those gathered in the hall.

BBC reporter Richard Fenton-Smith, when reporting on Detroit Soup, once asked “Can soup change the world?”  I think the answer to that is “indeed it can!”


The 6th Stirling Soup is now being planned for March 2019 and is now run by Laura Brown and Liam Miller. If you would like to apply to pitch at it then contact .  Edinburgh Soup were the first soup in Scotland when they launched a few  years ago, to date they have raised over 5K! There are also plans in place for more Soups across Scotland, the latest one being Dundee Soup which took place in April 2017.