Forever grateful to team for bringing my dream for community to life

RE4orm volunteers busy at work

RE4orm volunteers busy at work - Credit: RE4orm Torbay

Over a year on from setting up RE4orm, I am still asked what led to our CIC being formed.

It cannot be pinned down to a certain event in my life, more so, a culmination of qualifications, experience and knowledge gained over the last 16 years.

From an early age, I was brought up with an innate belief that I could make a difference in the world.

For many years, I dreamed of being Prime Minister – that faded once I realised what it actually entailed!

Even though I was painfully shy, I knew in my heart, my purpose was to make someone’s life that much better. 

After graduating with a BA Honours in education, I trained to be a teacher and taught both here and abroad. I loved this early stage of my career and one I look back on with a lot of fondness.

At times I felt like our education system was failing some parts of society and I was interested in exploring how I could empower and educate those who had been ‘let down’ at school.

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I must make it clear that teachers are exceptional and true heroes; it is the system that seems to be failing many.

Working with NEETs - young people in neither education, employment or training - was an incredibly rewarding job and it still makes me feel so proud of the young people I worked with when I see them at work.

Young people often receive a bad press, in many ways, that has been the case for generations throughout the years.

I can say, hand on heart, that the young people I worked with taught me so much about myself and for that, I am truly grateful.

Plus, I even learned the word 'mug' and I don’t mean in the china tea cup variety.

As an educational consultant for Devon County Council and their ethnic minority and traveller achievement service, I had the pleasure of working with Gypsy Roma and traveller communities as well as asylum seekers and refugees.

As a white woman from a small town in the South West, my eyes were opened. The barriers these communities face and overcome on a daily basis is inspiring.

After leading a team of family support workers for a local academy trust, I started to think about the next stage of my career.

Being close to 40 and wanting to leave a legacy within our community, I came up with the idea of a grassroots community group. A group that would work together to alleviate poverty and raise aspirations.

Put simply, a group that everyone can belong to; a group that will empower each other.

RE4orm’s project Food 4Torbay has been running for nearly a year. In that time, we have been supporting at least 650 people with support for food poverty.

Over 60,000 meals have been sent out by Team RE4orm to families across Torbay, ensuring the pressure on families is relieved in some way.

Some of Team RE4orm, a group of 60-plus volunteers, have been working every week, sorting, packing and delivering meals without fail. 

This group is a group like no other; I am still in awe of their tenacity, compassion and drive. RE4orm would not be RE4orm without these wonderful individuals. 

Giving to others can help protect your mental and physical health. It can reduce stress, combat depression, keep you mentally stimulated, and provide a sense of purpose.

While it’s true that the more you volunteer, the more benefits you’ll experience, volunteering doesn’t have to involve a long-term commitment or take a huge amount of time out of your busy day.

Giving in even simple ways can help those in need and improve your health and happiness.

I will be forever grateful to the team for bringing my dream for the community to life.

Many may see the volunteers as unsung heroes, but to me, they are what makes RE4orm.