From laying train lines - to meals on wheels
BA & PG Dip Landscape Architecture 2013 graduate Justyn Nathan has recently been given a TfL (Transport for London) special recognition award for his hard work volunteering during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Justyn works for TfL as a project manager, overseeing the Four Lines Modernisation tube upgrade for the Metropolitan, Circle, District, Hammersmith and City lines. In March, Justyn was furloughed from his job but says he felt guilty taking government money and not doing anything to earn it.
This is when he decided to put his spare time to good use and chose to volunteer for a charity called ‘With Compassion’.
With Compassion is a charity that is run by a group of chefs and volunteers who have a passion for food, who come together to cook nutritious meals for those in need. The charity prepare, cook and deliver seven days a week to thousands of vulnerable people, and also NHS workers and support workers across the UK.
Justyn wanted to volunteer for something which he excelled at, especially as he has always been particularly passionate about food. The charity was desperate for volunteers and he was therefore given the head chef role due to his knowledge and experience.
Justyn said: “The charity got a lot of recognition and was in the local newspaper for the work they were doing as well as being on the radio, it even hit the news.”
The charity was based at the Stone X Saracens Rugby Stadium, and at the beginning they were making on average 500 meals per day. However, as the pandemic grew worse, the meals soared from 500 to a colossal 20,000 meals per day. This meant relocating to Wembley Stadium was the only option to facilitate the high demand of meals. The staff at Wembley Stadium helped Justyn prepare, cook and send out the meals to those in need.
When asked how he found volunteering during the Covid-19 pandemic, Justyn said: ‘It was amazing! It was a sense of normality in a way, yet I felt a huge sense of achievement and a sense of giving back, there really are no words to describe it. It was amazing to see Chefs from London, project managers and loads of different volunteers coming together to help.’
The produce for the meals came from a number of charities, the main source was a charity called the Felix project, where they rescue food that are slightly out of date or not up to supermarket standards. As well as getting food given to them, they were also raising money at the same time which also was put towards buying food.