“​I get a real sense of achievement”

The hometown of Nick Bell (45) is London. But he lived for the last ten years in Germany, New Zealand and since June 2014 in Amsterdam.

What was the reason you came here?
“For work – ​I’m an independent business consultant. I like to work in Amsterdam. I like the physical location, the culture and it’s close to the UK.”

When you decided: I would like to do volunteering?
“Since becoming involved with the non-profit sector in New Zealand. There is a very strong charitable and volunteering sector. I provided consultancy and research to a food rescue, and I was able to contribute to the development of a national food rescue program. I learned that very many people, of all types, are willing to give their time and skills selflessly to help others. Without need of reward. So when I came to Amsterdam, I knew: I would like to do volunteering for the Food bank.”

I learned that very many people are willing to give their time and skills selflessly to help others

What are your activities at the Food bank?
“I help pack food parcels. For four hours every two weeks. We take good surplus food – that otherwise would be dumped into landfill and damage the environment. I dislike waste and inefficiency. Now we get it to the needy. That gives a high return on investment for my time. It improves the recipients health and makes their life better. And therefore also my life.”

What do you like the most?
“​I get a real sense of achievement every time I volunteer. I work with a nice group of people  – also expats – in a very friendly ambiance. And it’s good to know that together our effort is helping out the local community. I hope someone else does the same if I ever need it.”

I dislike waste and inefficiency

What does the volunteer work brings you, as a person?
​“Much commercial work will have little value in a few years, whereas helping to provide better nutrition to a disadvantaged child will help it learn and develop. And perhaps have a huge impact over its lifetime. It makes me feel that I’m doing worthwhile work and in a small way helping to make the planet better. And give something back to the local community. Also I expand my social network in Amsterdam and learn more about the voluntary sector in The Netherlands.”

What experience of your volunteer work is the most remarkable for you?

“I enjoy taking new volunteers along and exposing them to the work that the food bank does. Many have no idea that people are in such need in The Netherlands. Also it’s instructive to see the differences between volunteering here and in New Zealand. There all organizations are all privately run or funded by charities. There is zero government involvement. Which seems very different to The Netherlands!”

Does it feel, after 7 months, like home in Amsterdam?
“Yes, slowly I’m settling in to the city. I found a nice permanent apartment and I’m enjoying exploring the city with my new friends. I’m surprised  how friendly and welcoming the Dutch are to expats; making it easy to live and work here. Also I’m trying to learn Dutch, and self study helps me to integrate. I hope to stay for three till five years at least!”