• Emilie

Catching up with... Michelle and Nicola

Michelle and Nicola have been friends for 20 years. Nicola found us last summer when she was looking for volunteering roles during the first lockdown. Her first role was in delivering and she enjoyed cyc

ling around East London in the sunshine. She and Michelle became friends when Michelle answered an advert in the paper and the rest is history. Together they enjoy walking up mountains, going on holiday, drinking beer, wine and cocktails, and generally eating lots of food.

Michelle joined the BGFB when she realised she was going to be in London for Christmas. Nicola introduced her and she's been coming since just before the New Year.Michelle: It’s great. Everyone’s lovely and the time flies. No session is the same and you can quite easily do a few different roles within one session, depending on what’s needed, from registering clients and isolating food donations to making up more food bags.

What would you do if you were Mayor for the day?

Michelle: Ask Boris and Rishi to reconsider the 3 Million Excluded (again! I know Sadiq’s been trying!). A lot of people can’t even get Universal Credit, so have had almost a year without a penny of help. Just give them 80% of what they’ve earned – like everyone else – HMRC have the tax records/returns. It’s not difficult to work out.

Nicola: I would want to set in motion a plan to try to eradicate homelessness: to give people in this situation the chance to have an address, to allow them to apply for things, to put in place training centres to assist with job prospects and to work with those who are homeless through mental health problems and addiction.

What’s your (East) London secret?

Michelle: It’s not a secret per se, but I’ve been enjoying seeing some of the amazing street art on my way to/around the food bank. Especially @davidspeeduk, @otto_schade and @alo_art. Half the tiny side streets have something beautiful to look at.

Nicola: They are probably not very secret, but there are a couple of cocktail bars I like… Callooh Callay cocktail bar on Rivington St, and Discount Suit Company on Wentworth St, which is a small basement bar with a DJ on the turntable at the end of the bar. He plays great Northern soul tunes and the cocktails are fabulous.

Which living person do you most admire, and why?

Nicola: My school friend, Terri. She has been running her own business since the last recession: she’s motivated and hard working, has survived a recession and, so far, the pandemic. She’s a single mum who has brought up a charming daughter. She's caring and generous, and is always checking in on people. She even finds time to volunteer and has been a life line to some elderly folks who have been home alone throughout the pandemic.

Michelle: My dad. He’s the calmest, silliest, most selfless person I know. Just a good human. (And my mum’s pretty ace, too!)

What's your most treasured possession?

Nicola: The fleecy robe! Life on the sofa.

Michelle: Probably my phone – even though it’s ancient – for the joy of video calling my family and the reeeeally-needs-to-be-culled amount of photos I have on there. Or my 24-year-old bike, which is ensuring I do SOME exercise. Even if it’s only once a week on my way to the food bank!

Cat or dog?

Michelle: Dog.

Nicola: Dog. They are always pleased to see you, they give you unconditional love and they make you exercise.

What's your guiltiest pleasure?

Nicola: Getting up without an alarm, having a shower and putting clean pyjamas on, heading to the sofa with a large frothy coffee and croissants to watch box sets, read women’s mags and listen to music.

Michelle: Reading – I never allow myself to just sit and relax with a book! Since I’ve stopped commuting, I haven’t even finished one book.

This is the third edition of an ongoing series celebrating members of the BGFB community. Thanks Nicola and Michelle for all that you do, and here's to another 20 years of friendship!

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