A year since the start of my Team v adventure

It was a year ago that I was on the train to London for Team v’s welcome and induction day, how quickly has that gone? After only completing my interview two days before I was caught up in a whirlwind of excitement and it hadn’t quite sunk in that I had been successful. To get to the point where I was accepted was a success in itself for me and did not come easily.

Fast forward a year to now and I am happier, healthier and more confident than I could ever have imagined a year ago. I’ve completed tasks I never thought I would able to do such as running workshops in schools and talking on the radio. In the past year I’ve visited London, Liverpool, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Coventry and Swindon.

This new found confidence has helped in all areas of my life. Academically, Team v has helped me to progress too. I am now studying a Health and Social Care course, I will be taking part in a 3 day first aid course which starts tomorrow and next week I begin my BSL course. This wouldn’t have been possible without the Team v Scholarship. I am happier than I have ever been, partly down to all of the amazing opportunities I’ve taken part in and also because of allowing myself to feel the love my family have for me.

Volunteering wise, I have taken part in residential camps for children with serious illnesses and with children who are deafblind. Both of these have been inspiring and I can’t wait to volunteer later this year with some similar organisations. My CV is now full of experience and finding new opportunities is so much easier.

I think it is important to look at how far you’ve come occasionally. It’s too easy to get caught up in chasing your dreams that you forget to look at how much has changed already. A big thank you has to go to my amazing family, I wouldn’t be doing what I am now without their support and encouragement. As well as the Team v staff who believed in me and supported me throughout the programme.

Next week I will be taking part in vInspired Ambassador training. This is something I am very excited about and will be writing more about over the upcoming weeks. I have loads of new and exciting opportunities over the next few months and I am sure this next year will be even better than the last.

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A Telephone Call…

Sometimes it can be the smallest of things that make you realise just how much your life has changed over the past few weeks, months or even years. For me this came in the form of a phone call last week with my Team v YNC.

But lets rewind a little so that this makes more sense to you all. Put simply – I used to HATE talking on the phone. I don’t even like talking to my family on the phone. I think it is the immediate response, that you must react to what the other person is saying straight away. You can’t see their reaction or have time to think about what you’ve just said and how it has been received by them.

The thought of talking on the phone has never been a happy one for me. Nor was the idea or talking in public, in front of anyone, even a small group. But as part of Team v, and life in general, these are things I HAVE to develop if I want to become a more confident and happier person. So that is exactly what I am doing 🙂

Last week I spoke to my YNC for half an hour on the phone. A whole 30 minutes (and 16 seconds… it’s those little seconds that all added up!) of talking about the campaign and asking each other how we were. It was the first time that I can ever remember being so excited waiting for a phone call as I couldn’t wait to share the happy news of my campaign. Once the phone call was over I had the biggest smile on my face. Not only did I achieve my personal goal of being able to have a proper telephone conversation without being a big mess of nerves but I was happy and reasonably confident whilst doing so.

Then yesterday I met with the development worker for Stoke on Trent’s Boys Brigade. They run a local youth session for young carers and I knew we would be able to work together on this ‘Do You Care?‘ campaign. Our meeting went really well and I think I was able to talk more clearly than I did when I met with Stoke on Trent Foodbank in my first campaign (Beyond a Tin of Food).

I have challenged myself this campaign more than ever. I will be running workshops which involve talking in front of 5o Year 7 students, running events at a Sixth Form, my local YCMA and two Youth clubs where I will be talking to many young people and I will also be speaking on a local Radio station early in March.

This is basically a long winded way of saying that personal achievements can come in all shapes and sizes. Remember that they are all important to firstly recognise and secondly, to celebrate.

If you want things to change then you firstly have to decide that you are ready to allow yourself to feel vulnerable. Yes, it is incredibly scary, I’m not going to lie to you. But I promise you it is so worth it – always. Decide that you want to throw yourself at all those little things that scare you, one at a time. To all of the Team v leaders, I know that things may not always go according to plan but always remember you are amazing and we’re all achieving so much 🙂

I believe that if we all take a moment to look back on how much you’ve personally grown over the past year then you will amaze yourselves. So what’s stopping you? Do it now 🙂


My #Beyondfood Photo Results

Here is a collection of the photos taken during my #Beyondfood campaign. Some of them are my planning but mostly they are of the very kind donations from schools and businesses across Stoke on Trent. Team v Stoke South managed to donate a grand total of 2,050 items (743kg!) of non-perishable food to Stoke on Trent Foodbank.

Team v journey, part 1

Just before Christmas saw the end of my first campaign as a Team v leader, called ‘Beyond a tin of food’ #Beyondfood. It lasted for a total of 7 weeks and in that time I learnt much more than I thought possible.

In total I managed to collect 2,050 items of food (743kg) for Stoke on Trent Foodbank. My living room was taken over by tins of food for weeks and I spent over 12 hours counting, taking photographs and packaging all of the food items. Here’s a quick look at my living room before the food was collected by Stoke on Trent Foodbank:

Final collection of foodHaywood Academy

I’ve learnt that things rarely go according to plan and most importantly that this is okay. Plans change and adapt due to new ideas or things out of your control. A few weeks into this campaign I became unwell and my plans had to change. The goal of collecting 300 cans or getting in touch with my MP, Robert Flello, seemed completely unattainable. But, after breaking everything down and taking things slowly, I managed to collect many items of food from schools around Stoke on Trent.

This campaign has also taught me about happiness. It has shown me that when things seem tough or when you aren’t feeling happy there is normally something, no matter how small, that you can do to make yourself smile. For me that was waking up one Monday morning and deciding Stoke on Trent Schools WOULD be involved in this campaign. It WASN’T too late (even with just over 2 weeks left!). I sat at my computer and emailed EVERY nursery, primary, SEN, Secondary school and college in my area (all 150 of them) and then I waited. I waited 3 days and I finally had 5 schools on board. And it was the best feeling ever! Knowing I had turned my campaign around 🙂

This campaign would not have been the success it was without my volunteers and my family. Tango Stoke and Stokie’s Blues dancers – you are incredibly generous, thank you so much. Week after week you continued to bring items of food along and helped make this campaign successful.

I would also like to say a massive thank you to the amazing Team v staff and other leaders, they are all so supportive and inspiring. I cannot wait until Resi 2 to find out what the next campaign is about and spend some more time with you all. Be sure to check back here soon for more information 🙂

Tuesday Inspiration #5

3c730a858c6791ef4872557bfb64dd3f When I saw this quote it instantly reminded me what Team v is all about. Today is the start of the Hunger challenge as part of the #Beyondfood campaign. Leaders nationally will be living off the contents of a typical three day emergency food parcel and blogging all about it.

Check back over the next few days to see how I’m getting on 🙂

Before the Hunger Challenge

Tomorrow, Tuesday 11th to Thursday 13th, I will be taking part in Team v’s Hunger Challenge as part of the campaign ‘Beyond a tin of food’ #Beyondfood. Over the next few days I will be blogging about my experiences, what shocks me the most, what I have eaten and the impact, if any, this has on me.

I have purchased and will be eating the contents of a three day emergency food parcel which typically includes:

  •  1 packet of pasta
  • 1 jar of pasta sauce
  • 1 tin of beans
  • 2 tins of stew or similar
  • 1 tin of meatballs
  • 2 tins of soup/1 packet of cup-soups
  • 1 small box of tea bags
  • 1 packet of cereal
  • 2 rice puddings or tins of fruit
  • 1 large or 2 small tins of potatoes
  • 2 tins of vegetables
  • 1 carton of UHT milk
  • 1 packet of biscuits
  • Plus toothpaste, shampoo and soap

Although this may appear to be a lot of food, people experiencing poverty will often have very little in their cupboards. It is unlikely they will have salt, pepper or any other seasonings to add to their food, making their meals bland.

What shocked me the most when I started this campaign was that anyone could find themselves in the situation of needing to rely on a Foodbank for an emergency food parcel.

A major factor contributing to the increase in food poverty over the last few years, is that people’s incomes are staying the same, whilsts living costs including food, fuel and energy costs are all going up. According to the Below the Breadline report, published in June 2014, more than half a million children in the UK are now living in families who are unable to provide a minimally acceptable diet.

Team v Leaders nationally are collecting and donating food to local foodbanks. For more information about how you can be involved or where your local leader is based please contact me on evie.hibbitt@vinspired.com


You’re not alone…

This post is for all the Team v leaders who may feel overwhelmed or that everyone else is ahead of them. It is to remind you that you’re not alone 🙂

In the early hours of this morning I was sat staring at my computer screen wondering what on earth have I taken on. There seemed so much to do and so little time. Every time I complete something on my to do list I end up writing two or three more things down, it was getting longer rather than shorter!!

I’ve never organised my own event before or had my own team of volunteers. I’ve never had to think about how I am going to serve tea and coffee and in what sort of cups four weeks before an event. Talking to and meeting new people is something I find difficult let alone running meetings where people are relying on me. Suddenly, as part of this campaign, these are all things I needed to do.

It all felt very overwhelming and after more than a few stressy hours I knew I had to take a different approach. I took some time to myself and went in search of a quote. I can spend hours looking at inspirational quotes but I came across this one and it pretty much summed up how I was feeling:

I decided the first step was to take what I wanted to do back to very basics and created this:


These are the five areas I need to work on and over the next few days. I plan on working out exactly what needs doing for each section and working out the steps I need to take to do so. Rather than seeing it all as a never ending list of tasks I need to do this way I hope I can feel proud as I complete what needs doing in each section.

No doubt I will still have feelings that my events aren’t going to work out, that I’m way behind everyone else, that there is simply no way I can do this any more! But hopefully this post will be a reminder that I’m not alone and will remind any of you feeling the same way that we are all here for you.

Remember, you are making a difference just by being part of the Team v journey. It is not about creating the biggest events or having the most volunteers or spending your days stressed out that you have so much to do and no time to do it.

We’re all in this together and together we will achieve amazing things. Always remember it’s important to be happy and feel proud of what you’ve achieved.

Have a wonderful week and keep smiling. We can do this 🙂

Team v Resi 1

Between Friday 17th and Sunday 19th October, along with over 100 leaders from across the country, I took part in the most influential residential I have ever been to.

On Friday the campaign we would be working on was finally revealed. As I mentioned in an earlier post, which can be found here, it is called ‘Beyond a tin of food’. It is all about raising awareness of our local food banks and how food poverty has increased massively over the past three years.

The training we received was excellent and so full on, by the end of each day I was more than ready for my very comfy bed. We were taught how to contact our local MP, skills needed for public speaking, the truth about food poverty and who is affected and how to use social media in campaigning.

And then there was the amazing hotel food, the onesie film night, games and a silent disco to enjoy. Walking through the hotel restaurant (full of members of the public enjoying a delicious meal with their family and friends!) dressed in a sheep onesie was a personal highlight!

10735856_10204535774488444_506261159_nOn the journey home I had a last minute panic as I realised I was on the wrong platform, waiting for a train that went to London not Stoke!! This meant a mad dash to the right platform with only a minute to go before the train left!! But all was okay and a couple of hours later I was back home. Tired, happy and having lost my voice completely which made explaining the weekend and the reason for my excitement difficult… But rather entertaining too 🙂
Resi 1 changed me in a way I never expected. Sure, I hope by the end of Team v my confidence levels will increase but this was something else. A change in mindset. A realisation that I can make a difference and help. That it is possible to give people a voice who may not have one by simply helping them.

The biggest realisation I had though was that my past does not define me. I can do anything and go anywhere I want, achieve anything I put my mind to.

I am me and that is all I can be 🙂

#Beyondfood #teamvgo

Beyond a tin of food

This weekend Team v Leaders gathered in Daventry as the first of three campaigns for this years leaders was revealed. The first campaign is called…


Beyond a tin of food!

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Beyond a tin of food is all about raising awareness of food poverty in our local area.Food poverty has increased by 610% in only 3 years, with growing numbers of people going hungry and being forced to use food banks to feed themselves ad their families.

Throughout my journey I will update you all with how the campaign is going and the running total of food I have collected. We will also be taking part in ‘The Hunger Challenge’ between Tuesday 11th – Thursday 13th November (more details below) if you would like to get involved please do. You can also follow the campaign on twitter at #beyondfood and #teamvgo.


How can you be involved?

Around the country Team v leaders are running events to raise awareness of their local food banks and the impact they have on their community. But they can’t do this alone! We rely on the help of volunteers and the public to get involved and go ‘beyond a tin of food’. You could donate a tin to your local food bank, give up your time to volunteer or simply display or share one of our posters highlighting this issue. To find your local Team v leader please visit https://vinspired.com/team-v-leaders-map.

If you live in Stoke on Trent please contact Evie on evie.hibbitt@vinspired.com or on twitter @EHibbitt for more information about ways to get involved.


What is ‘The Hunger Challenge’ and why get involved?

The Hunger challenge is a three day experience where leaders, mentors, staff from vInspired Team v, volunteers and members of the public will experience living on food aid and share their experiences. We will eat the food that you would typically find in a food parcel and record our experiences. For more information contact your local leader or myself on the above details.


What will you do to help raise awareness? Comment to let me know 🙂