Diary of a #BigCollection Team Leader – By Charlotte Cooke


A couple of months ago I decided to volunteer as a Tesco big collection team leader. I have had type 1 diabetes for nearly ten years and have volunteered for Diabetes UK before at road shows but never had to organise and gather my own team.

After attending the training I soon realised what I had let myself in for. This event was going to take more than roping in a few of my friends. I would need 3 people on each shift for 8 shifts!! I don’t even know that many people. We were all given our pack and deadlines as well as all the contacts we would need and began our first mission to recruit volunteers. Even at this stage I did not realise the task at hand. I was still excited about the potential of the donations we could gather for Diabetes UK and a little emotional from the video we were shown about the massive partnership between Tesco and Diabetes UK. I also learnt a lot which made me more motivated to this even successful, such as Diabetes UK despite all its good work receives no government funding.

My first task involved phoning all my family and friends begging for their support and pointing them in the direction of the big collection page to sign up… This was more difficult than I had originally thought. I wanted to get people signed up quickly so my poor boyfriend was signed up to two whole days so I could try and make a dent on the numbers I needed. If I’m honest this stage was a little de motivating as despite lots of people saying they would do it signing them up online was a different matter. The north-west office kept in contact offering help and checking I was ok with the task at hand so I knew I had support. I also kept motivated by wanting to fill my store team quickly so I could begin thinking about the day itself.

I took to signing volunteers up myself with the promise of an after collection BBQ to say thank you (weather permitting) following this it was time to take to take to the streets with posters. I put them up in doctor’s waiting rooms, chemists, the launderette, paper shops and small pubs. I also e mailed Chester university where they send out the volunteering opportunity to students. Finally I looked close to filling a few shifts! Woo hoo!

This was then when I e mailed the volunteers I had and set up the face book group inviting them so we could share ideas. I also posted on Facebook and twitter about the event to try and gain more support. The next push for volunteers came from work where I enlisted enough staff to fill the Saturday and Sunday shifts and have reserves!!

I finally felt I could relax about it, some of the volunteers from work had chosen to volunteer as they themselves had family members affected by the disease. Their support and enthusiasm was inspiring and before I could ask they were offering ideas on ways to make the day more successful. I think this is when it hit home why I was helping to organise the big collection. Not only do Diabetes UK help people like myself with type 1 but people with type 2 also and their families. All getting together can only have a positive effect and it was good to share stories and listen to other peoples experiences.

And now ….after my summer holidays we come to the present week. With just over 3 weeks until the event I met my main contact at the Frodsham street Chester store, Dave. This is when I really got excited. Dave showed me everything the store had done so far. It was so motivating to see how much they had done and how they were making so much effort in getting behind the partnership. He showed me how the staff had already dressed up as fruit in a previous collection se we decided to do the same thing for the big collection. Some of the volunteers had expressed an interest in dressing up as good and bad food so this should hopefully work well. With someone dressing up as a sugar cube, a hot dog suit borrowed from Wetherspoon and a banana suit on order as well as the Tesco staffs existing fancy dress it’s my turn to try and make some apple and strawberry costumes. No easy task for someone who has never stitched anything in my life! As well as the costumes we’re organising, Dave’s hoping to enlist some staff from the store to do bag packing and a tombola.

From my initial worries I think I can finally be excited about the event. The volunteers and Dave along with the other Tesco employees’ enthusiasm is contagious. I can also enjoy the fun stuff now and concentrate on being creative with felt and other materials. The countdown is on!! Let’s raise as much as we can especially more than our rival sealand road store ;)

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Brilliant blog Charlotte!! Have already heard from someone who went to your store today that you were doing well. Not sure about beating us at Sealand Road though – we’re up for the challenge – Game on!!! Good luck! Pat xx