Volunteer at CENS

National Volunteering week takes place 1st-7th of June this year. It highlights the inspirational work people do to support charities and the larger community. Lucy is a volunteer at CENS and has been helping out every week since 2019. Her impact has meant residents get delicious, nutrient-dense food while staff can dedicate more time to finding permanent accommodation for those who use the service.

Getting started

“I donated some of my Mum’s old linen that was still in good order and which I didn’t want to just throw away. I met Patsi who showed me around the CENS. She was so lovely and friendly, so I asked her about volunteering.

“There was a lot of information in the press about homelessness at the time. Like everyone, I felt a pang each time I saw someone on the streets facing another cold night alone. I was lucky enough to have spare time and the ability to cook for larger numbers so, wanting to be useful, I started volunteering in 2019. 

Catering for all

“I spend the morning at the CENS cooking dinner for up to 16 residents. It’s usually a main course and perhaps a side salad, all using the ingredients that are donated from supermarkets around Colchester. Then I tidy the kitchen, chat to the permanent staff and leave after 2 to 3 hours.”

“I learnt to cook whilst working in a Swiss hotel, a London wine bar and for the directors‘ dining rooms in the city branches of Barclays Bank. I love food and I like to cook to keep up my skills and efficiency, but more importantly, I like to think of the residents enjoying home-cooked food.”

Why volunteer?

“If you want to volunteer, I’d advise you choose a charity you have a feeling for. Be friendly and enthusiastic and the wonderful people who work there permanently will welcome you in.”

If you’re interested in being a volunteer at CENS, click here to see how you can help.

CENS Essential Shopping List

  • Tea
  • Coffee
  • Sugar
  • Hot chocolate
  • UHT milk
  • Squash
  • Vgetable oil
  • Gravy granules
  • Ketchup
  • Mayonnaise
  • Salt & pepper
  • Stock cubes
  • Herbs and spices
  • Tinned fruit
  • Tinned/packet custard
  • Baked beans
  • Tinned tuna
  • Tinned vegetables & potatoes
  • Tinned tomatoes
  • Kidney beans
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Jam, peanut butter, chocolate spread
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Men & women’s deodorant
  • Men’s razors
  • Shave gel
  • Shower gel
  • Toothpaste
  • Cloths
  • Scourers
  • Washing up liquid
  • Surface cleaners
  • Floor cleaner
  • Bleach
  • Bathroom cleaners
  • Bin bags
  • Food caddy liners
  • Loo roll
  • Washing tablets
  • AA batteries
  • NEW single duvets
  • Pillows/pillowcases
  • Single duvet covers/sheets
  • Clean/good condition towels

Please no soups!
Thank you