Blog | neighbourly

The Crash Pad: helping homeless young people find a pathway back into the community


The Pilion Trust runs a homeless project in London for young people like no other.

The team at The Crash Pad give the young people who are referred to them a safe place to live while they recover their self-esteem and confidence. Yet this project stands out from other homeless youth projects because it offers more than just a place to crash – the Crash Pad team makes their young residents feel valued long after they’ve moved on.

When someone has lost ties with family members or important figures in their lives, the knowledge that they matter – that they are loved – encourages residents to make positive changes and embrace their independent futures.

I asked three people who have been involved in The Crash Pad how they felt about the charity. Here’s what I learned…

Sam Parrington is part of the dedicated team of support workers at The Crash Pad. She told us that many people who are referred to the shelter don’t have a strong support network.

“They may be migrants, people who have been abused or kids rejected from their own families. Here at The Crash Pad, the phone is on 24/7. We want the young people to stand on their own two feet and we give them the support to do so.”

Sam proudly describes an example of a Bangladeshi boy who came to The Crash Pad after running all the way to London from Manchester when his brother was murdered. He’s now working at festivals across the country and comes to visit Sam and the team all suited and booted! Another former resident has gone on to study at Cambridge University.

It takes a special kind of team to achieve the kinds of success stories they’ve seen through their doors. “You have to show them that they aren’t worthless or hopeless, as they’ve often been told many times before. It’s about giving them a voice, and sometimes this can be really difficult.”

The Crash Pad creates opportunities for young people to find their voice in many different ways. Artistic expression can be a very important tool to unlock the potential of the young people. Sam has found that their regular creative sessions have inspired some of the quietest Crash Pad residents to tell their stories, to speak out for the first time.


Artist David Tovey is a former resident of The Crash Pad who says that The Pilion Trust saved his life. David is founder of the One Festival of Homeless Arts, an exhibition and programme of events exploring issues and problems around homelessness, featuring work by homeless artists. He’s also designed his own fashion label in collaboration with Hopeful Trader.

David believes that the world needs more places like The Crash Pad, and says it does so much more than offer a bed – it creates a home. He knows he can still call up the team and they’ll drop everything to come along and support his projects.

When he first arrived at The Crash Pad, David had been to hell and back – he was completely broken. After suffering from cancer and living in his car, David decided to take his own life on a park bench. A park enforcement officer called Gavin saw him and intervened. It wasn’t even meant to be Gavin’s shift. Gavin called The Pilion Trust and David was welcomed to The Crash Pad.

With encouragement from Savvas at Pilion Trust, David realised he could use his creative talents to spread hope. “That belief that I could be someone, that I had a story worth telling, was the kick up the backside I needed!”

David is now running arts workshops for the young people at The Crash Pad. When he visits, he shows the current residents the bed where he used to stay. They can hardly believe he was a former resident!

“I keep telling my story because I want to spread this hope to as many people as possible. It’s not all about doom and gloom – I want to show the world that homeless people can make a difference.”

We spoke to another of The Crash Pad’s former residents who has recently moved into temporary accommodation. When he first came to The Crash Pad, he was in a real state. The first thing he remembers is meeting Sam. She gave him something to eat and completely took him in. Now he calls Sam ‘mum’.

All he was expecting was dinner and a bed for the night. Like David, what he found was something like a family. “If I ever need help, I know Sam will come straight away. The first night I spent in my new flat, I found the change really difficult. I called Sam and she came straight away to make sure I was OK.”

The Crash Pad team has supported him in all kinds of ways, from baking him a 21st birthday cake to organising a solicitor to help him secure permanent housing.

I asked him to sum up what The Crash Pad means to him. “You know when your mum looks at you and you just know you could do better? That’s proper love.”

It’s proper love that The Crash Pad gives out along with hot food, a safe place to sleep, advice and the chance to learn new skills and find work. The feeling of being part of a family is what gives them the courage to turn these opportunities into milestones.

The Crash Pad needs your help to spread awareness of their project. They would love to be able to run the services that they can only provide in the winter all year round. So get involved by sharing their Neighbourly project page across social media channels with your friends, family and followers. Let’s make sure this amazing project can inspire many more young people with hope for a better future.


About Neighbourly

Neighbourly matches charity and community projects with people and companies that can donate time, money or surplus. Get support by creating and sharing a project or give support by following, donating or giving a day to volunteer.

Charities: get your project started here

Businesses: email us about memberships on hello@neighbourly.com

Supporters & volunteers: sign up to be part of the Neighbourly network here - or simply find a project you care about and share it to help spread the word!

Beth Calverley

Community Manager

Mar 23, 2017

How to make the most of your single biggest workforce asset: employee volunteering


The end of the financial year is looming and if you’re not groaning at the thought of finally completing the tax return you’ve been putting off, you’re very likely reconciling last year’s accounts and starting the budget planning for the year ahead. 

I imagine you’re up against another year of fewer resources and greater expectations. Not only is there the sad fact that the office party that was once a black tie dinner at a stately home is now sandwiches down the pub, it’s back to finding greater efficiency in an already stretched core budget. 

But what if you’re wasting your single biggest asset? Employee volunteering has already shown that it can lead to a happier, healthier, more productive workforce. And can even make your customers choose your brand over your closest competitor. So why are so many companies missing it?

Perhaps it’s not something that has been seen as core business, but rather as a nice to have. Maybe it’s the perception that a programme of this type might involve a high commitment of time or money. But for those that have made it work, it’s something that has been proven time and again to deliver results. And when it comes to staff motivation, it’s far more effective than a tuna sandwich at the Fox and Hounds.

Around a quarter of private sector companies have employer-supported volunteering programmes in place, and over half of employees working at companies that don’t would like their employer to have one. Our research with the wonderful companies we work with at Neighbourly, like Marks & Spencer and The Body Shop, found that a staggering 80% of their employees found that the experience of volunteering through Neighbourly made them feel happier, 86% said it raised the profile of their company in the community, and no less than 100% said it made them feel proud to be an employee.

While the benefits of volunteering as an employee are clear, surprisingly, on average only a third of employees in companies that have an employer-supported volunteering programme in place take up the opportunity. 

Among the most frequently cited reasons for not volunteering from the employee side is not being able to choose the activity, not being clear on the skills being gained from taking part, and not having enough information about what is on offer. 

There are barriers too on the charity side. Research from the Universities of Hull and Sheffield has found that charities are often unsure on how to ‘pitch’ opportunities to employers and need to become more ‘employee volunteer ready’.    

And ultimately, everyone wants to see more clearly the long-term benefit for the employee, the company, the charity and those the charity is helping.

For employers this means putting in place volunteering programmes where they don’t exist, connecting to a wide variety of local charities and publicising these opportunities to staff through internal communications. It means finding the right balance between employee needs, business needs and charity needs and then letting your employees take the lead so that there is ownership and freedom around the projects they can support.

For charities it means building in tailored employer supported offers to existing volunteering programmes, setting out a clear case for support from companies, and using new ways to publicise their needs.

And for everyone supporting employers and charities to connect, it means finding better ways to show the benefits.

It’s time to put employer-supported volunteering centre stage in the push for happier, healthier, more productive workplaces.  And with clear benefits from culture to brand sentiment, from new sources of support to greater social impact, that's one decision everyone can get on board with. 

Find out more about employee volunteering with Neighbourly here.

About Neighbourly

Neighbourly matches charity and community projects with people and companies that can donate time, money or surplus. Get support by creating and sharing a project or give support by following, donating or giving a day to volunteer.

Businesses: email us about memberships on hello@neighbourly.com

Charities: get your project started here

Supporters & volunteers: sign up to be part of the Neighbourly network here

Steve Haines

Head of Community Engagement

Mar 21, 2017

Lidl and M&S on how Neighbourly is helping them tackle food waste

Lidl UK recently signed up as the second major retail partner for Neighbourly, joining Marks & Spencer (M&S) which is nearly two years into its partnership with the social venture. The Drum catches up with them about how it's going and why this isn't about marketing.

Read the full Drum article here.


Content Manager

Mar 9, 2017

A day to #BeBoldForChange


Women across the World are uniting today to be clear on the power and need for gender equality.

At Neighbourly, two thirds of our community is made up from women who are forging paths in their neighbourhoods to create better places to work, sleep, play and learn.

These custodians of social change must also be invited into senior roles in business, be heard in Parliament, be rewarded financially on equal terms as our male counterparts.

There is compelling evidence from a multitude of sources that boards with female representation perform better, yet less than one quarter of FTSE 100 boardrooms have achieved this. This isn't about tokenism - this is about a different emotional skill set being brought to bear and expanding perspectives.

Reported by the World Economic Forum today, the Global Gender Gap isn't set to close entirely until 2186 with The United Kingdom positioned 20th which is just unacceptable. The 2016 Report covers 144 countries with more than a decade of data revealing that progress is still too slow for realising the full potential of one half of humanity within our lifetimes.

It's important for the future of our children and beyond that we are clear - we must #BeBoldForChange and give our voices to encourage the masses to help forge a better, more gender inclusive world, which in turn creates happy, healthy local communities.

Zoe Colosimo - Neighbourly COO

Photo: from left to right - Zoe, Becky, Yang, Beth @nbrly


Content Manager

Mar 8, 2017

Unlocking potential: Priorities for the UK to make progress on the Sustainable Development Goals


I’ll start with a confession. When a colleague asked me after a meeting of the High-Level Panel on what was then called the ‘Post-2015 Development Framework’ what I thought the chances were of achieving a coherent, actionable set of goals to succeed the Millennium Development Goals, I said “it looks like it’s going to be a Christmas Tree – everyone wants to hang their issues on it, without thinking what it will look like when it’s done”. 


Not for the first time, I was wrong. By the General Assembly in 2015, the seemingly impossible had been achieved: UN member states speaking with one voice saying “On behalf of the peoples we serve, we have adopted a historic decision on a comprehensive, far-reaching and people-centred set of universal and transformative Goals and targets”. And it was done with the views of many millions of people directly, and many more through their representatives, at its core.


At today’s UK Stakeholders for Sustainable Development we came back to that central principle: the need to engage people in the delivery of the Goals. As Emily Auckland, the UKSSD Network Director put it, following a presentation by a person telling us the real meaning of the Goals for one person’s life, the SDGs are a lofty framework, about people, and about inclusion. 


At the start of 2017, sadly, we know that we are up against harder challenges than we foresaw before the Goals were adopted, with recent events showing us all that our communities are more divided and people more disenfranchised by global agendas than we thought. As John Elkington of Volans illustrated, we are in a U bend - dropping towards the bottom - and we can expect it to take at least 8-10 years to come out of it, but this is nonetheless an opportunity to drive change.


It became clear as the conference went on that much, much more needs to be done. There are many efforts and initiatives to congratulate, but these are only adding up to an incremental approach to system malfunction.


So how do we take on this challenge? Here are three suggestions I heard:


The sheer breadth of the SDGs and their language makes them hard to digest. We need to use human language, with clear specific benefits that speak to the real-world problems people are facing. Simpler actions are needed, simpler objectives set. As Jane Davidson, Director of the Wales Institute for Sustainability pointed out, devolution is an opportunity. Equally, for change driven by local authorities, who are struggling for budgets and needing to show impact, a more local voice can show how local business and individuals can be part of the change. 


We need a lot more action from a lot more organisations - collaborative action. And we need take this on expecting and embracing the struggle, friction and energy that comes with creating solutions to tough problems. Our very own Nick Davies from Neighbourly put it this way: we need to take the learning from good initiatives to scale and make the change exponential. Social platforms like Neighbourly can be a part of helping us deliver exponential growth. 


And we need you. There was an excellent suggestion from the audience in the final session that if we want personal ownership, we need to do it too, with a personal, family audit of how we live that not only helps us make a difference, but also helps us set out clearer understanding how an individual can be a part of the solution. As another audience member put it, thought leads to action, action to habit, and habit to destiny – and the SDGs are a matter of our shared destiny.


This time next year at the third UKSSD conference I hope we can see how these formative ideas are transforming lives and communities. We now know that we are planning for an uncertain future and the Sustainable Development Goals, and the people-centred, inclusive, approach they offer can help us build out our action plan to respond to this. It’s our responsibility to make this not just a mapping of what we are already doing, but a springboard for a sustainable future. 

About Neighbourly

Neighbourly matches charity and community projects with people and companies that can donate time, money or surplus. Get support by creating and sharing a project or give support by following, donating or giving a day to volunteer.

Charities: get your project started here

Businesses: email us about memberships on hello@neighbourly.com

Supporters & volunteers: sign up to be part of the Neighbourly network here

Steve Haines

Head of Community Engagement

Mar 1, 2017

A word of thanks


Our food redistribution scheme has been going from strength to strength and we were delighted recently to be able to officially announce our partnership with Lidl UK as they roll out their new food surplus scheme with Neighbourly across their 600+ stores. 

The most rewarding part, though, is when we hear from the projects themselves about where the food surplus is going, how it’s getting used and how it is helping to improve the lives of the local communities surrounding these stores. 

We receive lots of lovely messages about the scheme, but we recently received a letter from the Birchwood project in Skelmersdale that really made us proud. The project helps give young people at risk of homelessness a place to live and stay safe, enjoy life and achieve their goals. With their permission, we’re sharing the letter with you, and we hope it brings a smile to you face, just like it did ours. If you’d like to support the Birchwood project, give their page a follow on neighbourly, or share this article below. 

“So, where do we start? It’s really tough to put into words how grateful we are at Birchwood that you decided to help us. Your donation of food that is heading for waste is amazing, really. It’s fan-flipping-tastic and it is the type of thing that helps restore our faith in humanity and the wonderful things people can do when they’re willing. And you were willing - and for that we say “thank you!” and offer you a big, massive Birchwood hug.
As you will already know, Birchwood is a charity that helps young people and the wider community who have suffered challenges and setbacks in their lives. Yet these people are just that - people - and we’re determined to give them a bunk up over the wall that’s been placed in front of them.
The Junk Food Café started as a result of your help, and your food donations are really important – they help us not only reduce food poverty and protect the environment but also build important relationships to help change lives. Remember when you were young, and you wanted to climb that huge, green tree at the end of your garden, but needed a friend to give you a leg up over that wall. We’re that friend giving them a step up to get over hurdles and climb the tree of life for themselves. The more excellent organisations like Neighbourly, Lidl and Marks & Spencer can help, the more branches they have to grab on to further up the tree.
Here’s what a single young mum with 3 children said about how the scheme has helped:
‘I am going to go home and make some vegetable soup, with loads of bread and butter a fruit salad and put a bunch of flowers on the table for me and the kids. Instead of gate crashing my mum’s again. I think she is getting sick of it! Thanks, you are a life saver’
You see, it doesn’t matter what we say to you from our Birchwood Centre, or what we ask of you. All that matters is the change companies and people like yourself make and how totally grateful our communities and the people we work with are. The rest is just noise.
Here we are, at the end of our letter. It’s been emotional. We hope you can continue to help us help others in their quest to change their lives. Until we next speak to you again, we say: Thank you, we’re absolutely made up that you’ve helped.
From the whole Birchwood Team, lots of love x”

About Neighbourly

Neighbourly matches charity and community projects with people and companies that can donate time, money or surplus. Get support by creating and sharing a project or give support by following, donating or giving a day to volunteer.

For charities that need surplus food email: food@neighbourly.com

For businesses that would like to donate surplus food email: hello@neighbourly.com

Sign up to be part of the Neighbourly network here.

Feb 23, 2017

What can be done about sandwiches - one of our highest wasting products?


When John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, an 18th-century English aristocrat, ordered his valet to bring him meat tucked between two pieces of bread, so he could continue playing cards, he couldn’t have known what a hit his invention was going to be. Not only did his fellow card players order “the same as Sandwich”, but today that enthusiasm has grown to Britons consuming a staggering three and a half billion sandwiches a year, made by 300,000 people employed in the sandwich industry in the UK.

However, sandwiches are one of our highest wasting products, because of the unpredictable demand from all of us consumers, depending on what the weather is like or what filling we fancy on the day. Estimates put the amount of wastage at around 5%. My maths puts that at seven and a half million uneaten sandwiches.

Some retailers, like Pret A Manger have taken action, handing out their uneaten stock at the end of each day to people who need them, and Greggs filling solidarity fridges. These solutions point us in the right direction, but they’re not always suitable for retailers, for example those where ‘food on the go’ is only part of their offer.  And sandwiches are a particularly difficult item to manage.  Their short shelf lives and need to be kept chilled to make sure they are safe to eat, means that they have to move fast or go to waste. 

What can be done? Last year, Neighbourly co-hosted an industry seminar with the Food Foundation and the Food Standards Agency to find ways to manage this problem, looking at issues such as best before dates. It complemented similar work by the FSA and the British Sandwich and Food on the Go Association to look at the issue of sandwiches in particular.

Recently, new guidance has been given to sandwich retailers that allows them to test for safety in store. This could save up to 2000 tonnes, or about 280 double decker buses filled with sandwiches, from going to waste.  If we take the opportunity to drive this into common practice, it could have the transformational impact that the familiar Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directive has had on environmental collection, treatment, recovery, recycling and disposal of electrical and electronic equipment.  Working together to champion the issue, we can spark a movement where retailers not just entertain this issue but take on the challenge with more confidence. 

But that’s not the end of the story. As Jim Winship, Director of the British Sandwich and Food on the Go Association says “retailers and the charities they support will now need to establish the practical means to deliver surplus foods to those who need them.”

And that’s where Neighbourly comes in. Our unique platform sends alerts from retailers to matched local charities with food hygiene training, to take food to a huge range of people who need it, from children’s breakfast clubs, to hospices, to homeless shelters. We give retailers a more scaleable, traceable solution, with exportable, shareable data. 

And we can complement the good intentions of retailers with opportunities to engage communities and support food charities delivering the vital work of surplus redistribution.  Charities can use our volunteering function to get the people they need and gain financial and in-kind support through our innovative campaigns like #FundAFridge (recently supported by Lidl UK).

Having enough good food to eat and making sure we don’t waste all those marvellous sandwiches is a bread and butter issue.  Thankfully we now have both the safety guidance and the way of connecting surplus to be able to waste less and feed more people.

About Neighbourly

Neighbourly matches charity and community projects with people and companies that can donate time, money or surplus. Get support by creating and sharing a project or give support by following, donating or giving a day to volunteer.

For charities that need surplus food email: food@neighbourly.com

For businesses that would like to donate surplus food email: hello@neighbourly.com

Sign up to be part of the Neighbourly network here.

Steve Haines

Head of Community Engagement

Feb 7, 2017

Lidl partners with Neighbourly on national roll-out to redistribute up to 2 million meals a year


I’m delighted to reveal that Lidl UK has announced the launch of their national food redistribution programme and support of #FundAFridge in partnership with Neighbourly. This will see all Lidl stores across England, Scotland and Wales donating food surplus to local food charities helping to feed people in need, equalling up to 2 million meals a year.

This national rollout follows a highly successful eight-week pilot that helped to feed more than 3,400 people across community centres, elderly day care centres, housing support projects and children’s centres in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.

Our food team will be linking each Lidl store, region by region, with partner charities that will be able to collect edible food surplus directly from the stores each day. The first 100 stores will be fully active by the end of April 2017, with remaining stores joining the programme throughout the year and into early 2018.

Alongside this commitment Lidl is the first retailer to sign up to our #FundAFridge campaign, donating over 100 fridges and freezers to projects that struggle with storage for the food donations that they receive. This will help improve their ability to safely store donated food, increase their capacity to sustainably manage more surplus and in turn, provide more meals for those who need them.

For us though, the most exciting part of this partnership is not just about Lidl’s adoption of a model aiming to change how the supermarket industry deals with the redistribution of surplus, but a step towards a more holistic solution for community partners – which is long overdue. As well as matching Lidl with local food projects, and campaigns like #FundAFridge, Neighbourly will be working to attract volunteers to help redistribute food surplus on a daily basis, reducing transportation costs for the projects taking part.

Our thanks go to the Lidl head office and project team that worked on the pilot and have helped to get this programme off the ground. Have a watch of this video from the Scunthorpe pilot to find out more about the impact the scheme is having on local communities.

Email lidl@neighbourly.com to register your food project.

Sign up to be part of the Neighbourly network here.

If you'd like to donate surplus food please get in touch at hello@neighbourly.com

About Neighbourly

Neighbourly matches charity and community projects with people and companies that can donate time, money or surplus. Get support by creating and sharing a project or give support by following, donating or giving a day to volunteer.

Nick Davies


Jan 24, 2017

#FeedingGood recipes: Potato Lasagna


Ah, lasagna – the hearty staple that we love. This Italian dish is extremely versatile and you’ll probably find that everyone you know has a different take on it (all equally delicious!) The great news is that it naturally incorporates some of the ingredients we waste the most, and can easily be adapted to chuck in a few more.


According to River Cottage, milk and cheese are two of the top five most wasted foods, with us Brits pouring 5.9 million glasses of milk down the drain each year, along with more than three million slices of cheese a day! These two ingredients happen to be perfect for a tasty cheese sauce.


Why not trade an extra trip to the supermarket to pick up fresh pasta sheets for the potatoes you have already? We chuck 5.8 million spuds each year – they feature in the top five, and I bet you have some lurking in your fridge. The great thing about veggie lasagnas is that you can please your meat-free friends while chucking in whatever lonely veg you’ve got lying around. Feel free to substitute to suit.


We also throw away an eye-watering one billion tomatoes every year. Why not make a fresh sauce rather than reaching for the can? Perfect if you grow them, or are overrun with them!


Altogether, it’s a perfect waste-busting dish. This recipe uses basic ingredients that you’re more likely to have around than having to buy in specially.



2 aubergines, cut into chunks

1 large courgette, cut into chunks

1 yellow or red pepper, cut into chunks

1 tbsp olive oil

1.4kg of potatoes, thinly sliced

Salt and pepper


Tomato Sauce:

1 tbsp of olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, chopped

Salt and pepper

1 tbsp dried basil

1 dried bay leaf

1.8kg red tomatoes, chopped


Cheese sauce: 

300ml semi skimmed milk

25g plain flour

15g unsalted butter

75g cheese, grated


Preheat the oven to 200°C (gas mark 6), or 180°C for a fan oven. Put the aubergine, courgette and pepper into a large roasting tin and coat in olive oil. Roast until tender, or for about 25 minutes.


Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan and cook the onions and garlic, stirring often. Once soft, add the basil, bay leaves and tomatoes. Simmer for 20 minutes, then add salt and pepper to taste. Remove the bay leaf. Turn off the heat.


Stir the veg into the pasta sauce. Tip a third of the mixture into a large rectangular baking dish. Arrange a layer of sliced potatoes on top, Repeat the layers, finishing with potatoes.


Heat the milk, flour and butter in a saucepan. Whisk constantly until the sauce boils and thickens. Remove from the hob and stir in half the cheese until melted. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour the cheese sauce over your lasagna and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Bake until golden brown, or for about 30-35 minutes.


Bon appetit!


Lasagna recipe adapted from:



Tomato sauce recipe from:



About Neighbourly

Neighbourly matches charity and community projects with people and companies that can donate time, money or surplus. Get support by creating and sharing a project or give support by following, donating or giving a day to volunteer.


Content Manager

Jan 17, 2017

Businesses unite in a bid to make the UK economy ‘fit for the future’ by backing sustainable development


In an open letter to the Prime Minister published today, more than 80 leading companies, including Neighbourly, have united in a call on the Government to demonstrate its commitment to delivering the UN Sustainable Development Goals* (SDGs).

Ahead of the World Economic Forum annual meeting taking place on 17-20 January, businesses say they are ready to work with the Government to help deliver the SDGs in the UK as well as internationally, but that the Government must create a framework to help businesses play their part.

The letter, co-ordinated by UK Stakeholders in Sustainable Development (UKSSD), is being published on the day that the Business and Sustainable Development Commission publishes its own flagship report on the business case for achieving sustainable and inclusive growth, and quantifying the value of private sector opportunities aligned with the SDGs.

At Neighbourly we absolutely know that today's great companies don't just want to contribute - they're ready to collaborate and build a powerful coalition for change but need the support of government and citizens to help unlock society's true potential. So it's wonderful to see such an emphatic demonstration of a desire to work in partnership using the Sustainable Development Goals as a framework for success.

I believe the UK Government should seize this opportunity to work with business to help shape an inclusive community action plan that works for all. We look forward to working with this inspiring network of businesses, NGOs and academics to advance sustainable development and help facilitate the delivery of the SDGs in the UK. Read more about the steering group here.

Nick Davies


Jan 16, 2017