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Planned to Perfection

When our team of civil servants was disbanded, we decided to say goodbye to years of high-level number-crunching by having a go at something a bit more hands-on – a volunteering day, well away from Whitehall and Westminster.  We searched websites, narrowed down options, and eventually voted to try to make and serve a special lunch for a group of carers, people with disabilities and community workers in Tooting.  Be Enriched organised the event, helped us to get some of the ingredients from a scheme run by Sainsburys, and brought in extra helpers (including a regular volunteer who was a joy to work with and a fantastically efficient washer-up, and a young man on community reparation who chopped carrots like a machine!).  They were keen to make it a five-star experience for our guests, so we dug out our bow-ties and braces, planned a four course menu, and designated a maitre d’.

On the day, we found our problem-solving skills unexpectedly stretched, as we re-planned our menu on the fly to fit the ingredients we actually had, juggled our dishes through the (slightly temperamental) oven, and did our best to meet all the needs of our enthusiastic guests.  Alex and Charlotte’s project plan worked to the minute, and the team worked together more efficiently than ever before.  Highlights were the moment when Anthony (our maitre d’) was swept aside by a tide of people who knew exactly where they wanted to sit and weren’t standing for any of his nonsense; the guests who chatted to us about the area and asked for seconds, thirds and takeaways; and the applause for Swarajit (our toastmaster) as he ad libbed around the quiz answers.  The washing up and wiping down was over sooner than expected, and in the pub afterwards we all agreed that we’d love to do it again – perhaps with our new teams…

By Hiroko Plant from Beis

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