Hello readers. How are you? Would you like a little story? Great...
Today was part two of our work at Colchester Foodbank's storage warehouse and the first of Suez's Goodgym good deeds. She can add Goodgym stats to her impressive Parkrun stats.
Since our last visit builders had been in to put up new shelving and we had a number of new tasks to complete in two hours. Sweep and mop, move a large shelving unit, wipe the shelves clean and clean a few crates and their contents not to mention unloading the Foodbank van as a last little treat!
This was a job that could have taken one or two people all weekend but we managed to do a significant amount of work and ease the workload on the foodbank staff a lot. Vanessa was at the Foodbank's main outlet as usual and it is only right she gets a mention and a well done alongside everyone else today. BRAVO!
This task was not glamorous but we managed to have a chat and have some fun. The important thing is that the foodbank has a fit for purpose facility to store food that subsequently helps those people who need food. It was great to see people in person and I can only thank you for respecting the social distancing, wearing your masks, resisting hugs and doing such a superb job.
Well done to Ian for a long, warm run to and from the venue and to Emily, Nick and Fay - enjoy your cycles in the sun!
We look forward to the day when we can run together and do a variety of tasks but my message for today, especially if you are reading this and wondered if it is worth joining Goodgym, be part of our community and make a difference to your community.
All the best everyone!
The shelving needs a clean for a maximum of 8 people for social distancing reasons. Cleaning equipment and gloves may be provided but you may use PPE if you feel more comfortable. We will do 2 hours and see where we get to and help create clean spaces for the food.
Calling all available Goodgymers! This task will be based at the Langham Warehouse (approx 6 miles from Colchester). Our job is to clean and shunt crates of food for transport to another site. Approx. 100 crates of food need cleaning and it would be great to achieve either on, or close to this target. The warehouse is at School Farm Buildings, School Road, Langham. Postcode is CO4 5PB. For those who can't run/ walk/ cycle, parking is at the Community Centre located a little further along School Road. Start time is 8:30 am and we'll finish around 12 noon. Any time you could give during these hours would be greatly appreciated. The Foodbank staff are so grateful for our friendly and focused teamwork and muscle. Please sign up if you are able. Many thanks.
Fay completed a community mission. Instead of watching TV or lying in bed, Fay was out there making their community a better place to be. For making that choice they have earned the community cape.
Today we go to the help Colchester Foodbank. A Foodbank that has been around for 12 years and aims to be a service that is no longer needed. It wants a town (and a county, country, world) in which people can afford food. In wants to be rid of poverty. It, like Goodgym, wants to connect communities and make people more equal. It does not want food poverty but will always be there to help if there is. And there is.
**7,000 People in crisis fed last year with three-day emergency food supplies
2008 We have been helping people in the Colchester area for over a decade.
1 IN 5 of the UK population live below the poverty line (Colchester Foodbank website 2020)
Whatever your political views or ideology, if you read this please use every ounce of empathy you can muster to imagine having to rely on a foodbank to feed yourself and your children and how that magnifies itself during a pandemic. Wow, got a bit emotional there.
I am writing this part just before Goodgymers start to make their way down (individually) to the foodbank to learn how to volunteer there and run the warehouse if needed. Due to Coronavirus the uncertainty in society is deafening. Mike Beckett – who runs the foodbank - is the most proactive man. He even anticipated a growth in foodbank users due to politics e.g. Brexit and made preparations. He and his team are ready for whatever gets thrown his way. Goodgym will help and nine of us are ready to go and be trained to run a foodbank (Social distancing and hand-washing in mind)!
Goodgym as always has looked at this societal ‘problem’, this health pandemic, and just like with loneliness of older people and with charities who benefit from some extra help, made being useful in our community fun, accessible and worthwhile for us too.
Firstly it says so much about the volunteers that they chose to come and help. Many people who do not come to Goodgym often say "gosh, it is amazing what you guys do". Well yes...but it is also, easy, social, fun etc etc. But as we are all too aware life has changed and Coronavirus has put us all on edge. The numbers of deaths are scary and I totally understand if people do not want to come along. Let us return to the positives:
Goodgymers ran and cycled a variety of distances to get to the task - Ella and I ran just over 2km there and back. The sun was beating down...is this the Caribbean we live in?
It was great to meet so many more volunteers and regulars who are dedicated to the Foodbank and amazing to see some familiar faces. Is it me or is it weird now seeing people face to face? At a 2 metre distance of course!
We had a briefing outside whilst deliveries arrived - one in a rather sexy Aston Martin. What did we learn: Deliveries must be weighed-in and then sorted into categories e.g. vegetables, meat, treats, milk etc. Then they must be put on the relevant shelves in use-by-date order. The front shelves, in which Emily was stationed in the first shift, were for food packages going out soon and therefore anything going out of date soon was passed her way. And that is where the rest of us came in. Each aisle was given to an individual or co-habitants and away we went. sorting food by date.
With the sun, the fun, the chatter and the do-gooding it was nice to forget the 'C' word for a while...without getting too close.
Quote of the day was "wow, social distancing is hard for Goodgymers...we are all so huggy". Emily White!
*Tonight we completed a double with our second task for Colchester Borough Homes. *
The group gathered at Leisure World and welcomed Sophie for her first run and task with us. Welcome to Goodgym!
The news was exciting as usual with loyal runner Dan completing the tough Colchester Stampede 10k, Bryanne smashing 100 obstacles at Nuclear Races and run leader Helen getting an award at work that celebrated excellence.
We had a quick talk about the Co-op East of England partnership as well as the Jo Cox Foundation with Global Sharing Week coming up.
Off we went into the Essex sunshine to warm up in the glorious park and make our way through Colchester town centre, admiring our Colchester in Bloom handy work on the way, to Nancy Smith Close. The team were raring to go and with 22 runners, who Rebecca from Colchester Borough Homes was delighted to dish out the tasks to.
At the front of the homes a team of 7 runners planted and weeded, in the court yard and car park the rest of the team weeded and planted beautiful flowers. We swept and tidied all over too. See the photos, the results are fabulous. Being a warm spring evening one resident came to see hello and admire out finesse with trowels, brushes and dust pans!
With the task done we trotted off to Abbey Fields to have a bit of fun on a small hill, doing a 2 minute continuous relay with partners. Then we returned to Castle Park to enjoy the sunset and spend a few minutes in the sensory garden. A number of us were astounded by sound waves with a strangely amplified point in the garden. Kudos to any one who can explain this phenomena.
After stretching we strolled back through the park, picking up litter on the way, but talking about fishing and bird life in the case of myself and Bob.
Good times. You lot are brilliant. Remember the 12th June is social night! Oh and check out the Craig David poses in the pictures! Just "7 days" till the next run and task!
...but black T-shirts are earned after 50 good deeds!
Tonight felt like a celebration of the coming together of running and helping. The collection of medals on display was epic with Goodgym Colchester represented in Colchester (10k), Suffolk (30k for Helen), Maldon mud run (400m for Sophie) and Sofia (21k). BLING! Not only that but the there is an increasing amount of fetching black t-shirts on display. It is amazing that so many good deeds are happening in Colchester. In fact we managed 91 good deeds last month and do not forget the coach runners.
Not only that but it is mental health week and the chance to talk to each other, do some exercise and feel great.
We set off in the sunshine for one of our longer runs to John Lampon Court. Warming up in the most dynamic way we ran from river to hill to recreation ground and beyond. Charlotte met us and distributed the tools - brushes, dust pans, litter pickers and gloves. Last year we had the same task and we set to work improving the court yard, seating area and front porches as well as litter picking and tidying the front of the property.
The difference was notable and the appreciation from one resident was clear after she asked us to remove some weeds she could not do herself. That is Goodgym.
We warmed up again on Old Heath Rec and jogged into the sunset, stopping to do a little partner fitness work before stretching and heading for home.
Well done everyone! You are all champions.
Goodgym day arrived once more! We met at Leisure World and welcomed two new faces - Jess who is bored of running alone and Mariann who is ready to commit to running to an isolated older adult. That just shows that runners can make an impact however they prefer to run, there is a way to suit everyone.
I was pleased to announce our guest from St Helena, Jo, who told us about what the hospice does for people with incurable illnesses and going through bereavement. The leaflets help tell people about a simple way to support the charity and show off their gardens. Lovely.
We numbered off on the grass outside Aqua Springs and warmed up with some lunges, squats and a little sprint before trotting off on our delivery mission. We ran for 15 minutes up Ipswich Road with a bit of fresh drizzle unable to dampen the enthusiasm.
The group then split up and covered a large residential area with all runners ending up at The Rovers Tye pub. Such an efficient and energetic effort.
I had a treat in store on the gentle downward slope back to Leisure World - intervals using the lampposts to run at 3/4 pace and recover with a slow jog or walk. Great effort everyone.
We stretched off and I reminded everyone about International Women's Day. England's Women's football team won the SheBelieves Cup but I just need to look at our members for inspirational women.
*Tonight we stepped out to help one of Colchester's most well known and essential charities - St Helena Hospice. *
The evening started, after a few document checks, with a look on the Heroes Leader-board with Katherine Rose, Hannah Grinham and Ella on top of the Kilometers...but for how long?! There was a quick mention to Jules who had become a member too. Unfortunately some of these heroes could not make it tonight which means the leader board will be getting exciting! Also Emily White is top on good deeds having visited her new 'coach' twice this month.
A big welcome to Michelle on having a great introductory session. She got stuck with the task and smashed the Balkerne Hill reps.
I explained our task and the location and off we went to warm up. We lunged, sumo-lunged, penguin walked and squat jumped towards our partners with big high fives. Thinking of what walking and warming up ankles could be called proved hilarious but unrepeatable...
Ian dutifully back-marked and we ran into the night under the moon which was shining at 97.5% and in the Waning Gibbous phase. Photo opportunities knocked as we ran past the roaring weir, pushed ourselves up Balkerne Hill and then split into two teams. The new build area and the old build area soon had cheerful Goodgymers spreading the news of St Helena's calender of fundraising events on their doormats and in their letter boxes.
We were done and reconvened after a few photos with the car park artwork in the background. Across the bridge Balkerne Hill was about to be reduced to a mere mole-hill. Having offered the less steep option the group enthusiastically opted to training on the steeper slope. Everyone completed a full, three quarter, half and quarter uphill sprint with a decent recovery downhill and some stretching. Check out the Instagram, Facebook and Twitter for photos and giggles...get tagging yourselves.
With our breath back we went to deliver the final few leaflets in the Dutch Quarter, posed for photos at the weir and headed back to Leisure World. Our energy was well spent and as usual it is such a pleasure to run with you all. The good was done and the fitness effort was 100% (unlike the moon)!
We stretched in the foyer and chatted about the upcoming events. Alex told the group about his amazing challenge of swimming the Channel and the fundraiser he has in April for Team Angus. WoW!
See you next time.