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Organising a farmers' market as a student volunteer

Hayley Cooper, student at University of Central Lancashire, shares her story of organising a farmers' market supported by Student Eats.

After the stress of deadlines and a dissertation, I wanted to do something I had never done before, and something fun. Browsing through the list of volunteering opportunities on the students' union website, I came across the advert to get involved with the UCLan's Christmas Farmer's Market. The description included all roles within the project, and at the time I was thinking about just helping out with the admin side and getting involved on the day of the event.

After attending the first meeting, it became clear how much we would be helping local businesses by giving them the opportunity to sell their products to our student population and advertise their brand.

I volunteered to take on the admin role as planned and began drafting emails - yet rather quickly, the team of volunteers decreased, leaving only me to organise the event. Because of this, I stepped up and became the lead volunteer of the project.

I am happy this happened, with the added responsibility came added tasks and roles that were out of my comfort zone. Before this time, I was shy when talking to strangers and most of all, I did not like talking on the phone. Yet, I took on the responsibility of ringing each stall owner multiple times, building a rapport with them, following up for paperwork and deposits and tending to their needs.

This experience gave me the confidence to take on a leadership role, something I had never done before, and gave me skills that I wouldn't have found anywhere else.

The best aspect of this process was the end product. After a long morning of greeting the stall owners and organising every detail, it was great to step back and watch while customers came flooding in and watching how happy everyone looked. I also enjoyed obtaining feedback from the customers, listening to their positive reviews gave a great sense of achievement. Additionally, I enjoyed meeting the business owners on the day, this was the first time I had met them face-to-face after months of emailing back and forth and several phone call conversations. This was a great opportunity to talk to them and see why and how they got onto their career paths, and what their goals were for the future.

Overall, the process was not an easy one, but looking back, it was worth the hard work. It provided me with some great leadership skills and inspired me to do more for our community. Also, due to the success of the event, it is running again in the upcoming weeks and due to the strong relationships built with the stall owners, they have agreed to return and even offered us contacts of more businesses that we can get in touch with to further develop the enterprise."