Deniz Beck is already a known face in the city as an architect with her award winning work on all the Solent sea fortifications and more recently her Shaping Portsmouth Award for her amazing development work of The Hotwalls Studios.But her work is not her only contribution to Portsmouth; she is an active volunteer too! Her volunteering journey started at QA at The Premature Baby Unit which, although she really liked volunteering there, admits it was a bit lonely.
She then found out about Food Cycle and loved the idea of collecting food from the supermarkets otherwise would be wasted and turning them into delicious vegetarian meals and serving them in a social environment. This ticked all the boxes for her: food preparation, cooking and interacting with people from different backgrounds! She has been doing it for nearly a year and a half and learned a lot there about cooking.
Melvin, Deniz’s son, followed in his mum’s footsteps and started volunteering at Food Cycle too. He needed to be 18 years old to start volunteering but because her mum was already helping there it made it easier as she was able to supervise him until he turned 18 in the kitchen.
Melvin is a student at St John’s College and he is doing his A levels this year. He says “I love volunteering at Food Cycle for the same reasons as my mum but my favourite part is socialising with other people. I learnt a lot from volunteering especially time management. I can easily waste 2 hours of my day but volunteering taught me that I could do so much in those two hours. I now appreciate and try to manage my timetable more efficiently and gained sense of purpose in the community.”
Deniz says “After a long and tiring day at work, I think twice about volunteering but going to Food Cycle turns my day around and I find the whole experience therapeutic.”
They both agree that there are so many skills other people could gain from volunteering such as cooking, training about food hygiene, waiting skills and interacting with people which Melvin says helps him a lot as he works part time in a café in Southsea at the weekends. Therefore, volunteering helped him a lot gaining confidence and exceling at his work. Furthermore, he believes volunteering could help young people gain an insight to the real world before university.
Since Melvin started volunteering at Food Cycle last year, more young people joined in too.
Here are the list of other volunteering Deniz does and recommends:
- Independent visitor/ Mentor at No Limits
- Good Neighbour Befriender with Salvation Army, though she is having a little break of that but will start again soon.
- The Girl’s Network
- And obviously Food Cycle with her son Melvin.
After my interview with Deniz and Melvin, I have have realised that there is more I could offer and I am applying to be an Independent Visitor with No Limits too!
What else could you offer?
Article by Portsmouth Together Volunteer Muge Phillips