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We are the umbrella body for the voluntary and community sector in Southwark. We support charities, community groups and individuals through capacity building, networks and training.

Carolina – Castle Canteen – Be Enriched Volunteer

Carolina volunteered with Be Enriched at their Castle Canteen.


The canteen serves a hot, healthy three-course meal every week using donated surplus food and offer a social sanctuary for everyone to enjoy. They work with supermarkets, greengrocers and markets to reduce and redirect their usable surplus food to their canteen where they utilise a range of local chefs and volunteers to cook up a delicious lunch or supper.


Carolina tells us about her experience!


“In 2020, I opted for remote volunteering opportunities because of the pandemic. I did some content writing and some social media campaigns.
in 2021 I decided to do something in-person. I wanted something that would bring me back to what I knew but hadn’t done for a while. With my passion for cooking, it seemed like a great opportunity to put my cooking skills to good use. In fact, it is not the cooking itself, but cooking for people that I love. It has always been one of my greatest pleasures in life – cooking for people. Be Enriched volunteering combined both my love for cooking and being able to help local communities.


When I arrived, I joined two other volunteers in preparing a three-course vegetarian meal. I instantly chose the dessert. Although there was some basic ingredients in stock, the challenge was to come up with a nice and creative dish. I decided to make a caramelized peach tart. With lots of personal touches to the original recipe, it turned out to be a complete improvisation on the upside-down peach cake!

At midday, the visitors started to arrive. It felt really important to spend some time talking with them over a cup of tea or coffee. We served pumpkin and tomato soup followed by mushroom risotto and, of course, my caramelized peach tart for dessert. It was rather humbling to be able to share the warm meal with the visitors and spend more time getting to know these people and listening to their stories.
But then I had to clean up all the mess that I ‘improvised’ with my caramelized tart!


It might not be what I learnt, but what it reminded me of. The past year and a half has been hard for every single one of us. Sometimes, it is easy to forget that there are people out there, right in the center of our communities, who have been much more affected and secluded by the pandemic. Being caught in or frustrated by our own issues, we tend to overlook such situations. This volunteering opportunity gave me the ability to share a warm meal and to share kind words. It was very humbling. I felt gratitude for everything that I have and also realized the importance of doing this more regularly: to be there, to hold fellow person’s hand and to share a smile.
And, of course, it was great to be a dessert chef for a day!”



To learn more about Be Enriched and their volunteering opportunities, check out their website: https://www.be-enriched.org/