“Life’s Crate!”

Amazing volunteers like Libby Caramia are the key to keeping our services running smoothly. Here’s Libby’s story about volunteering at Sufra for two years, after she was stuck in the UK when Australia closed its boarders during the pandemic.  

“Who knew I’d be stranded abroad for nearly two years?

Over eighteen months ago, I landed in London after finishing a summer contract working in Greece. With the borders back home in Australia firmly shut, even to citizens like myself, I found myself stuck in Northwest London indefinitely.

In the early days I looked for work to keep myself busy, but with harsh lockdowns and the end of my work visa looming, finding a job was seemingly impossible.

Keen to get out of the house and return to society, I reached out to a friend to see if she had any ideas – after politely declining an invite to her rugby team’s thrice-weekly training sessions, she suggested I look up Sufra for volunteering opportunities. I applied online and nervously showed up at the little blue and yellow building on St Raphael’s estate for my first shift in January 2021.

Since then, I couldn’t stay away – coming in four days a week and jumping into all sorts of tasks and projects.

Charity work will always be a part of my life

Volunteering at Sufra has been so fulfilling in so many different ways. The satisfaction of knowing your work helps vulnerable families is an amazing feeling I’ve not found anywhere else, and the endless lifting and shifting of crates is a great workout!

It was great to have something to do again, but the best part was connecting with people – the wonderful staff, local residents and fellow volunteers – and getting to know some of the many families and individuals Sufra supports. I’ve made friends for life and had the pleasure of meeting some of the most genuine and caring people I’ll ever come across. There’s also been a few interesting characters I’ll definitely never forget!

Looking forward, charity work will continue to be a part of my life wherever I end up. Nowhere will be quite as special as Sufra though. I’m hugely grateful to everyone there for welcoming me so warmly, and all the support over the last twelve months.

Now that international travel is getting easier again, it’s time for me to finally return to my family in Australia. As much as I’d love to stay – the weather is just a little better back home!”

Libby Caramia, February 2022

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