Our ‘Five minutes with…’ series gives you the chance to meet some of the people who make up our Caritas community.
Raddon coordinates the community pantry and allotment at our Lalley Centre in North Manchester. Here, he tells us more about his work at Caritas – and why you’re just as likely to see him foraging for mushrooms as playing music…
Tell us about your role…
I coordinate the running of a community allotment and food pantry based at the Lalley Centre in Collyhurst. My role is really varied, involving crop planning, hands-on food growing on the allotment, welcoming groups of adults and school classes for education and wellbeing activities and making sure that the food pantry deliveries and opening times run smoothly. I also help coordinate two teams of dedicated volunteers for the pantry and allotment, who are invaluable to making both services possible.
How long have you worked with Caritas Salford and why did you decide to come and work here?
I started working for Caritas in December 2022 and applied for the job because it combined helping both people and the environment through the nexus of food. Having previously studied sustainable food and worked in community gardening before, it seemed like a perfect fit for me.
What’s the best thing about working at Caritas?
The lovely team of colleagues who support me in the job and are there to answer any questions I have, or step in to help if ever it’s needed.
What’s the best thing about working in your role?
I’m very lucky to be able to work in a role where I have the space to experiment with how best to maximise both sustainable food production and the wellbeing benefits of getting more people engaged in gardening.
Seeing the vegetables we produce on the allotment being taken home by people at the food pantry gives me a real sense of satisfaction, knowing that those people will be eating locally grown, organic produce which they otherwise might not have had access to.
Caritas is a charity. What’s it like working for a charitable organisation?
I always feel that the work I do is focussed directly on helping people rather than just contributing to company growth or profit targets. That in itself is a rewarding feeling.
As we rely on donations of time and money to continue our work we also all have to try and maximise any opportunity to save costs where possible, which can lead to some quite creative DIY solutions on the allotment!
What surprised you about working here that you didn’t expect?
I’ve been surprised by how quickly Caritas has been able to make positive changes to the way some services are run when suggestions have been made for improvement. It shows the charity is constantly trying to improve the way it operates and really cares about the people we help.
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not at work?
Playing music for myself and with others, fell running, hiking, reading and mushroom foraging.
What’s your favourite thing(s) to do in Greater Manchester or Lancashire?
Exploring Highfield Country Park in Levenshulme. The fact that nature has taken a lead in its recovery from when the area was a clay pit means there are always new things to see and paths to find. You can cycle right up to the entrance on the Fallowfield Loop too!
What three words best describe you?
Dedicated, creative, calm.
How would you sum up the difference your work makes in a sentence?
My work makes a difference by providing opportunities for people of all ages to engage in sustainable food growing in the city, whilst using the allotment produce, supermarket surplus and donated items to provide nourishing food to people in North Manchester.