/blog/The Neighbourly blog | NeighbourlyRead the Neighbourly blog for our latest news, resources and information about our fundraising, volunteering and surplus programmes.

New fund to support community organisations helping those most at risk during Coronavirus crisis

20 March 2020
Image

Here at Neighbourly we know now, more than ever, how important it is to support local communities. That's why we've set up a new Community Fund, backed by our partner businesses, to support the Neighbourly causes that will be most affected by the Covid-19 outbreak.

M&S Family (including M&S Bank and M&S Energy), Lidl, Aldi, Danone UK & Ireland and Coca-Cola European Partners have created a new fund to support community organisations helping those most at risk during the Coronavirus crisis and are urging other businesses to join them.

The Neighbourly Community Fund will funnel vital funds directly to community causes across the UK to ensure they can deliver essential services to those most at risk during the crisis. Our partners have committed a combined total of almost £500,000 to the Fund, to provide immediate micro-grants to community organisations that are helping the people most affected by the outbreak, including the elderly, those on low incomes and people at risk of food insecurity. And they are calling on other businesses to join them and contribute to the fund to build a coordinated response.

We know that many small charities and community groups face severe disruption to their services as a result of Covid-19, following a reduction in the number of volunteers and donations. These unrestricted grants will initially go to existing Neighbourly members across the UK and Ireland, including foodbanks, homeless shelters, care homes, youth groups and health charities. Some charities have told us they need urgent support to carry on running their core services, while others are adapting and starting new services to support people in the community.

Community causes supported through the fund will include organisations like The Moorlands Community Charity, which provides Meals on Wheels services for older people near Hull. Jacky Crawford, head of service there, told us: “The need for our services will increase over the coming weeks as many older people self-isolate, but without urgent help to get hold of more supplies, we just won’t be able to sustain our support.”

The immediate micro grants of up to £400 will go towards food provision, emergency supplies, practical support, running costs, transport and other essentials. By co-ordinating the emergency response, we will be able to assess where the most urgent gaps in support are, and where to direct funds to.


Steve Rowe, CEO of M&S, has commented:

"One of the things that makes me most proud to work at M&S is the role we play in our local communities. Not just through the brilliant service our colleagues give to our customers, but through the time and energy they give to helping those most in need. We can’t do this on our own and so we partner with organisations like Neighbourly who link our stores to local causes so we can donate surplus food and non-food products to the people who really need it. This fund will help mobilise over 1,000 local charities and organisations across the UK to support the most vulnerable members of our community. The whole M&S family is getting involved - including M&S Bank and M&S Energy – so we can keep up the support communities need most as events unfold."


Christian Härtnagel, CEO at Lidl GB, said:

“We are living in unprecedented times, and it’s essential that we look after those who need it most – that’s why our ‘Feed it Back’ scheme with Neighbourly is more important than ever. Through our store connections, and through this additional donation, we are able to directly support groups who are out in our communities doing an exceptional job of looking after the most vulnerable.”


Fritz Walleczek, Managing Director of Corporate Responsibility at Aldi, added:

“Neighbourly makes a huge difference in the communities they support, making sure surplus food and other donations get to those who need it most. That’s why, as a long-term partner, we’re committed to helping them throughout the year. The additional support provided through this fund is critical in ensuring Neighbourly causes have the support they need to continue making a positive difference to the most vulnerable in our society during this particularly difficult time.”


Leendert Den Hollander, Vice President and General Manager at Coca-Cola European Partners commented:

“There is nothing more important than communities at a time like this, and we fully support the excellent work Neighbourly is doing to ensure those of us most at risk are equipped with essential supplies and services through this difficult period.”  


James Pearson, Managing Director of Danone UK & Ireland, said:

“Working closely with communities has always been important to Danone and forms a core part of our ‘One Planet. One Health’ vision. We are committed to supporting our local communities and are proud to be a founding member of the Neighbourly Community Fund to help organisations on the front line in this time of uncertainty.”


The launch of the fund follows a new survey of Neighbourly’s front-line charity and community partners, which showed:

  • 77 percent of charities supporting older people expect services to be disrupted, with 75 percent of organisations who support young people fearing the same
  • More than 60 percent of charities have already seen a reduction in food surplus donations in recent weeks.
  • 75 percent of organisations expect to provide emergency provision after schools close

According to government statistics, 3 million children are at risk of going hungry while they are out of school; 1 million children who receive free school meals during term time, and another 2 million children who are ineligible for free school meals but are growing up in households in in-work poverty. Our network of charity partners estimate that with the additional pressures created by coronavirus, they expect to support an average of almost 180 people each week with emergency provision such as food and basic essentials. 


We know that what is needed by community groups and charities today will be very different over the weeks and months to come. Through our nationwide network of vetted good causes we will work closely with our partners to ensure the right support is directed to those places in most urgent need.


How to support your local community during the Coronavirus outbreak

18 March 2020
nw bristol foodbank

Here at Neighbourly we know now, more than ever, how important it is to support local communities.

With almost 12,000 local good causes on the Neighbourly platform, we’re already hearing directly about the effects of Covid-19 on efforts to help those who are vulnerable – but also the amazing adaptability of organisations determined to keep these essential services running.

However, food banks are already running low on supplies and many parents are worried that they won’t be able to afford to feed their children during school closures.

For the thousands of employee volunteers and fundraisers using the Neighbourly platform, the work environment has been rapidly changing too – with many now working remotely and others drafted in to work in hard hit departments – particularly across health and retail.

Despite this, communities are coming together in force to offer much needed local support to those in need. 

So whilst we might not be able to run programmes in the usual way, we do have a few suggestions on how you can continue to stay neighbourly and support local communities over the next few weeks and months.


Donations

Do donate (or continue donating) to food bank collections at your local supermarket if you can. If you can’t make it to the supermarket, consider making a food or financial donation online.

Click here to find Neighbourly good causes that accept online donations. If you’re keen to donate locally, you can filter the results by postcode by using the search bar on the right-hand side.

If you’re shopping online, check to see if your supermarket takes financial donations to food banks – this money can be used to purchase additional supplies as demand increases from those who are vulnerable during the pandemic.


Support

Get in touch with your local charities and food banks to see how you can support them. They’re in the best place to let you know if they could do with additional volunteer help, cash or donations of supplies. You can find your nearest good causes and food banks via the Neighbourly platform.

People are also forming local groups across the country – often using social media platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp to communicate and mobilise. Check to see if any groups have formed in your local area where they can help put you in touch with those in need.

If you’re unsure where to start, try typing the beginning of your post code into the Facebook search bar to see if any local groups already exist.

You can also find local groups listed on the new Covid Mutual Aid website.

Alternatively, a woman in Falmouth has come up with an innovative solution for offering help to those self-isolating. Simply print and fill out these postcards and pop them through your neighbours' doors. You don’t have to offer practical support, some of the people you reach may just want a friendly voice to chat to on the phone – particularly if they are forced to self-isolate alone.

Image

Advice and resources

For those that are concerned or worried about themselves or others, there are so many resources out there to help. Here are just a few that we think are particularly useful for local communities.

If you have concerns about the elderly and vulnerable, take a look at the advice from Age Concern.

If you are struggling with anxiety related to the pandemic, or have other mental health concerns for either yourself or others in your community, head over to Mind and their suggestions for ‘Coronavirus and mental wellbeing’.

For those with links to local day centres and homeless shelters, the government has released specific advice for how to deal with the coronavirus


Community response

Finally, we’ve been supporting efforts from a collaboration of community-focused organisations including Eden Project Communities and the Lottery Fund with their Community Covid 19 Action Response which has some easy but important suggestions for how to support your local community. You can see the top five in their illustration below.


Image


Please note, if you have any concerns for your health or the health of others, please refer to the government advice and NHS guidance.

UK food waste down by 7%, says WRAP

24 January 2020
royal albert hall

According to the latest report from sustainability not-for-profit organisation WRAP, the past three years has seen a 7% reduction per person in the UK's total food waste - that's a whopping 480,000 tonnes.

The report has come as part of the Courtauld Commitment 2025 (C2025), a voluntary agreement that brings together organisations across the food system to make food and drink production and consumption more sustainable.

A number of factors have been cited as contributors to this welcome reduction in food waste, including WRAP's own 'Love Food Hate Waste' campaign, improved household food waste collection across the UK and clearer labelling on food packaging.

The Courtauld Commitment doesn’t just aim to tackle food waste at a household level however. Since the commitment kicked off in 2007 they have been tackling waste across the entire supply chain – from farm gate to fridge.

Promisingly, the report also reveals that households and businesses are now tackling the problem at an accelerated rate, with a greater rate of progress from 2015 to 2018 than over the preceding five years.

Increased momentum is good news considering there is still a lot more to do in order to reach the C2025's goal of reducing the UK’s food and drink waste by 20% by 2025.

Business surplus success

One of the strategies WRAP has in common with Neighbourly is our commitment to using redistribution as one of the strategies that can be used to tackle business waste. And with a 96% increase in food surplus being redistributed between 2015 and 2018, this is clearly something that’s working.

At Neighbourly, we know that surplus food isn't a long-term solution to poverty. However, whilst as a country we waste 9.5 million tonnes of food every year, we believe we should be respectful of the world's resources by diverting as much as possible to feed people in need.

To date, Neighbourly partnerships with M&S, Lidl, Aldi, Innocent and more has meant that the platform redistributed over 9,300 tonnes, equivalent to over 22 million meals, of edible food surplus to charities and community groups across the UK and Ireland.

Neighbourly CEO Steve Butterworth comments: “We work with all our retailer partners to support them as they look to continually improve commercial and operating efficiency and minimise waste.

“Where surplus product is available, we have seen a growing increase in engagement with Neighbourly to help the industry redistribute even more of what they have available for donation to local good causes.”

What’s next?

If you’re a business looking to reduce waste by donating food or surplus stock find out more about how Neighbourly can help by getting in touch.

Alternatively, WRAP has developed an industry-wide food waste roadmap and toolkit that can be used to get started.


Aldi stores across England, Scotland and Wales embrace the season of giving this Christmas

28 October 2019
Image

Aldi is embracing the season of goodwill once again this year, and is calling on charities and community groups across England, Scotland and Wales to register so that they can collect food donations this Christmas Eve.

Following the launch earlier this year of the successful partnership with Neighbourly, 95% of Aldi stores are now donating surplus food up to five days a week, all year round. Christmas provides an opportunity for even more charities to benefit from the initiative and we are therefore calling on all charities and community groups in England, Scotland and Wales to get in touch for a Christmas Eve donation.

As part of the Christmas initiative, charities and community groups will be paired with local stores and can collect fresh food products that are near the end of their shelf life such as fruit, vegetables, fresh meat, fish and bread after the store closes at 6pm on Christmas Eve.

Last Christmas, Aldi donated just under half a million meals to charities across the UK, and is hoping to increase this for Christmas 2019, spreading Christmas cheer to even more families.

Fritz Walleczek, Managing Director of Corporate Responsibility at Aldi UK, said: “Our Christmas food donation scheme is something we’re really passionate about, and we’re working with Neighbourly this year to pair as many stores up as possible. Last year we were able to reach thousands of people across the UK, and some charities were even able to prepare fresh meals that fed families well into the New Year. This is our third year of Christmas food donations and we’re hoping this year will be just as successful.”

Charitable groups interested in working with Aldi this Christmas should contact aldichristmas@neighbourly.com before Monday 11th November 2019. All groups that apply must:

  • Have a level 2 hygiene certificate gained in the last two years
  • Be a registered charity, CIC or community group
  • Be able to collect, transport and store chilled food products

The community cafes supporting over 2,300 people in the UK, every week

2 September 2019
k9 cafe

This month marks the second anniversary of the Starbucks Community Café programme, launched in partnership with Neighbourly in August 2017, as a way to support small not-for-profit community spaces across Britain with donations of tea, coffee and other café essentials.

To mark the occasion we’ve been back to visit one of the original 20 cafés being supported by the scheme – the K9 café in Ely – to speak to the Starbucks store manager and some of the people involved.

The K9 cafe - a free, volunteer-run drop in centre for people who love dogs - started life as the brain wave of Chris Kent. She had been running employability training for adults and began the café as a welcoming and safe place for the group to continue to meet, practise and develop skills and confidence in a supportive environment. 

Gradually a team of volunteers emerged, who now run the café with Chris’ support. Local people drop in to the café to meet other people – some bringing their dogs and others coming along to have some company. The centre supports those with physical and mental learning difficulties and those suffering from social isolation. For many, coming to the café helps alleviate loneliness, with the dogs acting as a bridge between people.

Sadly, the project doesn’t get any regular funding – their only income is through proceeds from the tea/coffee sold, and they try and keep prices as low as possible as most visitors are on low incomes. The Starbucks support, which gives them free donations of essentials like coffee, tea, biscuits, cups, syrups and the like - is delivered through a partnership with their local Starbucks branch in Ely, and is an important factor in their continued survival.


Around Britain there are 19 more cafés being supported by the programme - from the Mint Lane Café in Lincoln all the way up Possobilities in Glasgow. They are all not-for-profit cafés, based within close-knit community spaces, with the focus being all about the benefits to the local community – providing good quality, healthy food and drink options at low prices or on a pay-what-you-can basis. They are all mostly volunteer-run and have a strong social angle – acting as sociable, safe and welcoming meeting spaces for many different local people – with a focus on community cohesion and inclusion.

In the past two years, the 20 cafes taking part have supported over 2,300 people every week and benefitted from donations of around 50,000 cups of tea, 45,000 cups of coffee, 30,000 cups of hot chocolate, and 64,000 biscuits! 

How to support the programme

You can support your local community cafe by popping in for a cup of tea or coffee, or maybe you could ‘pay-it-forward’ for a future customer in need. You'll find the cafés taking part in this programme on the campaign page. Follow and share their project pages across your social channels with the hashtag #StarbucksCommunityCafe.

If you're a community cafe looking for support, get in touch on starbucks@neighbourly.com.



Marks and Spencer, food surplus & community

18 September 2018
mems

Marks and Spencer has for a long time been dedicated to making a difference with its ‘Plan A’ vision for a sustainable future. Through this programme, first launched over 10 years ago in 2007, they strive to be a business that has a positive impact on wellbeing, communities and the planet. The program focuses on social and environmental issues and ensuring that by 2025 they are a circular business, generating zero waste – a bold goal that involves all their operations, supply chains and customers.

Since 2012, M&S have been zero-waste-to-landfill across their owned operations in the UK and Republic of Ireland and have made the prevention of food waste a priority. They were the first major retailer to provide live updates via the Neighbourly website on the number of tonnes of surplus food redistributed, and the first to manage a nationwide redistribution scheme through a single platform.

This type of thinking isn’t new to M&S. They’ve always been an innovator and leader in their food operations – pioneering boil-in-the-bag and sachet meals in 1972, then creating Britain’s first chilled instant meal, the much-loved chicken Kiev in 1979. The ease of not having to cook up a meal from scratch suited the working woman and the popularity of the ready-meal soared – an innovation that most certainly changed how we ate as we entered the ‘80s.

Arguably their greatest invention remains the adored packaged sandwich, created by M&S in the spring of 1980. Packaged sandwiches are now a staple in our lives and the industry is booming, its annual worth estimated at £8 billion – so it may seem surprising that the idea had never been tried before, but it hadn’t. Packaged sandwiches were a huge novelty when they started being sold on the Marks and Spencer shop floor for as little as 43p just 37 years ago. Some thought them outlandish – who would pay for something they could just as easily make at home? But they sold, and sold fast. The way that we lived and worked was changing and soon every supermarket was following the trend. In the early 90s, the head of their sandwich department developed M&S’s first dedicated “food to go” section, with its own tills and checkouts, in Manchester. The innovation was a huge success and prefigured the layout of most contemporary supermarkets.

But as we know, the advent of the modern-day supermarket, combined with the changing lifestyles and expectations of consumers has bought about one of today’s biggest environmental challenges – food waste. The total estimate for UK food waste stands at a staggering 10.2 million tonnes. Of that, 7.1 million tonnes are thrown away in our homes – with 70% classed as ‘avoidable’ (meaning every year we put 5.0 million tonnes of food that could have been eaten into our bins, worth an estimated £15 billion). Marks and Spencer are working to address this problem through advancements in the products and packaging that they sell. They engage their customers and encourage them to store and use food more efficiently – for example shoppers have been given tips on how to avoid food waste and the clarity of food date labelling has been improved.

Of the remaining 3.1 million tonnes of UK food waste, 260,000 tonnes come from retail, 1.85 million from manufacturers and around 1 million from hospitality and food service. This waste has been the focus of intense scrutiny in recent years, which has successfully resulted in a 50% increase in the amount redistributed to good causes in just two years, according to WRAP. This brings the 2017 total to the equivalent of 102 million meals redistributed – to the value of £130 million.

Marks & Spencer’s approach to food waste is comprehensive and they have committed to reducing food waste by 20% by 2020 and becoming a zero-waste business by 2025. Their primary aim is to reduce the amount of waste created in the first place and they’ve invested in new stock forecasting and planning systems as well as comprehensive supplier engagement schemes. They’ve also increased the volume of short life food sold at a discount to customers and this process now consistently clears most of the products that would otherwise have been disposed of. After redistributing whatever possible to good causes through the Neighbourly platform, any remaining surplus goes to anaerobic digestion (a process that turns food waste into electricity – some of which is bought back to power M&S stores) – absolutely nothing goes to landfill. 

To date, M&S stores have donated around 5.6 million meals to local communities through the Neighborly platform. This includes surplus baked goods, cupboard items, fruit, vegetables and chilled food (meat, dairy, fish, frozen food, ready meals, juices, sandwiches). They also donate flowers and non-food surplus like cleaning products, laundry items and toiletries. Their stores are connected to more than 850 local charities across the UK where meals, food parcels and a helping hand are provided to those who need it.

Through Neighbourly, every store is partnered with a nearby group such as a community café, foodbank or homeless shelter that receives daily alerts to let them know when surplus is available. Thanks to these donations, charity partners can benefit from their resources going a little further, enabling them to provide fresh items, fruit and vegetables to people in the community who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford them. The stores also provide wider support to their local charities through their year-long Local Charity Fundraising and annual volunteering programmes.

Here are just a few of the local causes that M&S support through Neighbourly:

Whitechapel Centre is the leading homelessness and housing charity in Liverpool supporting people to get back on their feet and providing them with a hot meal and a kind smile. Local M&S stores (and other retailers) give their unsold food to the centre so that this service can be provided. The charity also gives advice on housing, employment and basic facilities for the homeless. They are committed to helping people who are sleeping rough, living in hostels or struggling to manage their accommodation find a home and learn essential independent living skills. They work closely with each individual to get them the right help.

Norwich Food Hub collect surplus food from many stores in the area to redistribute it to community groups and local charities across the city. The hub was born from Director Rowan van Tromp’s passion surrounding environmental sustainability within the food supply chain and realisation that there was a lack of this type of service in the area. They receive and sort the food surplus before redistributing it to the vulnerable people across the city who are living at or below the breadline. Sadly, food poverty is a large issue in Norwich but the food hub’s work to redistribute surplus food is helping to lessen the problem.

In Yeovil, the community meals service delivers hot meals for the elderly or those who struggle to cook for themselves. Their meals are homemade and delivered by volunteers to people who might be suffering with dementia or physical issues that prevent them from cooking. Through this service carers are given a break from the task of preparing dinner by having a hot meal delivered instead, taking the strain away and brightening people’s days.


Nowadays we find that most businesses are actually doing more to change on the inside than many people appreciate, and M&S continues to lead from the front as customer expectations about what kind of companies they want to support change. As M&S colleagues continue to challenge why more can't be done, we at Neighbourly are continually working on solutions that connect their contribution so that customers notice and want to know how they can join in. We're extremely proud of our 4+ year partnership with M&S and how we've proved that a national business can indeed make a local difference in every community it serves.

For more information on Plan A, have a look at corporate.marksandspencer.com/plan-a


How to get involved in the M&S surplus scheme

Marks and Spencer are continuing to expand their food surplus scheme, making sure they can donate as much food surplus as possible and make a positive impact in the community. If you have a charity or community cause that could regularly collect surplus, you should join the Neighbourly platform and create a free page for your group. Your organisation will need a Level 2 (or equivalent) food hygiene certified no longer than 2.5 years ago. For chilled collections, you’ll need cool bags or boxes, freezers for storage and volunteers to collect after store closing in the evening.


Neighbourly calls for charities to join its food surplus scheme

18 September 2018
nw bristol foodbank

PRESS RELEASE, 19 September 2018

Giving platform Neighbourly has today put out a call inviting charities, food projects, schools and community groups to join its free food surplus redistribution scheme. Neighbourly is the redistribution partner to retailers and manufacturers including Marks & Spencer, Lidl and Danone

Through the Neighbourly platform, the equivalent of more than 7.5 million meals has been distributed to over 1,500 charities and community projects in local communities across the UK and Ireland.

Now Neighbourly is extending the scheme to more communities whose residents and families are suffering from food poverty and insecurity. The latest research from WRAP shows that food redistribution from commercial sources (retailers, manufacturers and hospitality and food services businesses) has increased by 50% in just two years but that there is potential for increased redistribution. One of the things that is needed for this to happen is for more charities to be aware that this resource is available to them and join up to benefit from the scheme. 

Neighbourly’s own research – from surveying its food surplus recipients – shows just how important receiving surplus is to them. On average, charities reported that they save an estimated average of £161 a month through these food donations and 90% find the Neighbourly food surplus schemes beneficial or extremely beneficial. 

Food surplus available for daily collection includes fruit and veg, bakery products and ambient food (food which can be safely stored at room temperature in a sealed container). It is also possible for charities to collect chilled items from some stores - dairy, meat, fish, chilled drinks and packaged ready meals, as long as they can meet certain criteria for safe collection, transportation and storage of chilled goods. 

“While the Neighbourly platform has distributed the equivalent of more than 7.5 million meals over the past three years, it’s imperative that we keep building knowledge across the sector that this valuable resource is available” Nick Davies, Neighbourly’s founder, added. “We invite charities of all shapes and sizes to join, from small community groups right through to larger charity networks, who in particular are able to put chilled items to good use. So much of the food surplus supply chain is as yet untapped. The Neighbourly food surplus scheme is free and easy for charities and community food projects to get involved with, so we encourage them to sign up.”  


To sign up to receive food surplus, charities and not-for-profits should to register with Neighbourly or email food@neighbourly.com. Groups must have a food hygiene certificate in order to collect the surplus.

 

Chilled food donations criteria 

In order to collect chilled food donations (meat, fish, dairy, ready meals, chilled drinks), charities must be able to meet the following criteria:

  • Level 2 (or equivalent) food hygiene certificate and/or FSA rating (4 stars or above) certified no longer than 2.5 years ago
  • Cool-boxes or cool-bags or refrigerated vehicles for transportation of donated items
  • Fridge/freezer space for immediate storage at premises

 

New calculations for reporting on the amounts of food surplus redistributed

28 June 2018
Image

Most organisations involved in the redistribution of surplus food, including Governments and the charity WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) are currently reporting on the amounts of food that are redistributed – usually in tonnage and a conversion of that tonnage into its ‘meals’ equivalent. On the Neighbourly website we record surplus in tonnes, and then convert this to number of meals to display on our company and branch pages. The Courtauld 2025 Redistribution Working Group, led by WRAP, have recently agreed that there is inconsistency in how the amount of food redistributed is being conveyed by the different parties involved and that this should be addressed.

There are two main ways the amounts of food redistributed are referred to:

·        As a weight (tonnes; kilogrammes)

·        As an equivalent number of meals

So far, a range of different factors for the conversion of weight into the number of equivalent meals have been used (for example 450g, 500g, 700g), which has made comparisons and reporting difficult. Following consultation with the Working Group, a review of relevant scientific literature and reference books and discussion with Public Health England, WRAP has recommended the use of 420g as a guide for the ‘average’ meal size, for the purposes of illustrating the amounts of food being redistributed. There is currently no official figure for an ‘average’ meal weight (due to the many factors that influence that, such as the meal occasion, the meal type, the individual), but there is research that can be used to create a sensible figure for expressing food surplus as ‘meal equivalents’.

In line with WRAP’s recommendation, Neighbourly will now be reporting meal equivalents using 420g as a meal size – giving 2,381 meals from 1 tonne of surplus. It’s important to note that this number is a guide only – it does not imply that this many balanced meals could be made from the food surplus but illustrates what the amount of food surplus might equate to.

To date (June 2018) the Neighbourly food surplus scheme has supported the redistribution of over 2,360 tonnes of surplus food, the equivalent of around 5.6 million meals, using this new calculation.

Further information can be found on the WRAP website.

Starbucks Community Café programme expands to support 20 cafes

9 May 2018
Mint Lane Cafe

This week sees Starbucks UK, in partnership with Neighbourly, launch the second phase of its successful Community Café programme. This latest expansion will add a further sixteen cafes to the four already being supported by the scheme since August 2017.

The projects being supported are all not-for-profit cafes, based within community spaces up and down the UK – you can see the latest ones to join the scheme on Neighbourly. Starbucks will be supporting each one through their local stores with donations of essentials like tea, coffee, milk jugs, syrups and cups – for which they will be able to make regular orders. Local stores also hope to offer the support of their staff teams through training and volunteering.

Across the country, these community cafés have come to life in response to the individual needs of a local community. They are all run not-for-profit, with the focus being all about the benefits to the local community – providing good quality, healthy food and drink options at reasonable prices or on a pay-what-you-can basis for those who can’t afford. They all have a strong social angle – acting as sociable, safe and welcoming meeting space for different community groups – with a focus on community cohesion and inclusion.

The K9 café in Ely – one of the latest 16 to be supported by Starbucks – started life as the brain wave of Chris Kent who had been running employability training for adults; ‘The café gave us all a continuing safe place to meet, a chance to practice and develop skills and confidence in the real world – but in supportive environment. Gradually a team of volunteers emerged, who now run the cafe with my support and we’ve been going for over 3 years. People drop in to the cafe to meet other people – some bring their dogs, some do not have a dog of their own but love them, so they can come and share other people’s dogs. We get a wide range of people come the cafe – from elderly people with dementia, young people on work experience, people learning difficulties, physical disabilities, mental health problems, social isolation, wheelchair users, people with autism, homeless people. Many have lifelong conditions and coming to the cafe helps alleviate loneliness and social isolation. Of course, the dogs are the bridge between the people – the glue that holds it all together, the ice-breaker, the thing everyone can talk about and enjoy being with. We don’t get any regular funding – our only income is through proceeds from the tea/coffee we sell, and we try and keep our prices low as most of our customers are on low incomes. Starbucks support means we can maximise the incomes from hot drinks which will be such a help.’

Over in Lincoln, the Mint Lane Cafe is a social eating café that uses retail surplus food, cooked and served by volunteers. Part of the growing “Superkitchen” network, the Café receives deliveries of food which is destined for waste, from local suppliers. From this they prepare and serve fresh nutritious lunches at affordable prices three days a week. It also offers surplus food for sale on a “Pay as You Feel” basis. As well as this they have a highly successful “Pay it Forward” scheme through which customers can donate a meal to someone who cannot afford it themselves. Vouchers are issued for every £3 donated, then distributed through partner agencies to people at risk of food poverty – giving them a free 3 course meal from the day’s menu at the café. The café is open Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays between 10am and 3pm, with the menu changing daily according to what rescued food arrives.

Charles Cooke, the Mint Lane Café manager tells us; ‘The primary purpose of the cafe is to provide a warm and welcoming environment for people who use the centre, as well as reducing food waste and fighting food poverty. The café relies on many volunteers undertaking a variety of roles; cooking, serving, managing food donations, cleaning, collecting local food surpluses and in the back office. I love watching the transformations of people… staff, volunteers and customers as they grow, become more confident and develop new friendships. We give a warm welcome at the door for everybody and especially those who might be a bit nervous about new places and new people. Large tables encourage people to sit together and make friends.’

Possobilities, further north in Glasgow, is a small social enterprise café which caters to everyone in the community, but mainly people with disabilities. The café serves 70 people each day and offers a safe place for local people to come and meet without any prejudice. Jim McCabe runs the café with 10 volunteers; ‘Our café is not for profit, so any generated income is always a bonus. Many of our members and customers are on low incomes so a Starbucks coffee is seen as a real luxury. We have won the Glasgow Evening Times Community Champions Award for our initiative and we’re about to launch a specially adapted Gym for people with disabilities that we have been fundraising nearly 4 years for.’

 

Support the campaign

You can support your local community cafe by popping in for a cup of tea or coffee, or maybe you could ‘pay-it-forward’ for a future customer in need. You'll find the cafes taking part in this programme on the campaign page - with more being added in the coming months. Follow and share their project pages across your social channels with the hashtag #StarbucksCommunityCafe to make more people aware of the amazing work they do.

If you're a community cafe looking for support, get in touch: starbucks@neighbourly.com

Don’t let it go to waste

8 September 2017
Image

Out of sight, out of mind? Perhaps a cause for concern when we relate it to our consumption of products, materials and food everyday. Because when we don't want to use the peelings from last night's potatoes or those old shampoo bottles, when we're done with the newspaper or no longer need the packaging our food came in - we just...throw it away. The question is - where is away? There is no such place. Everything we throw out has to go somewhere, and usually that somewhere is landfill.

Here are some pretty surprising facts about landfill in the UK:

  • If all cans in the UK were recycled, we would need 14 million fewer dustbins.
  • £36,000,000 worth of aluminium is thrown away each year.
  • Each UK family uses an average of 500 glass bottles and jars annually.
  • Glass that is thrown away and ends up in landfills will never decompose.
  • It takes 24 trees to make 1 tonne of newspaper.
  • 12.5 million tonnes of paper and cardboard are used annually in the UK.
  • Most families throw away about 40kg of plastic per year, which could otherwise be recycled.
  • Plastic can take up to 500 years to decompose.

So this is where #ZeroWasteWeek comes in. It's a grassroots campaign raising awareness of the environmental impact of waste and empowering participants to reduce waste. It takes place every year during the first week of September, but it doesn't end there!

At Neighbourly we're passionate about combatting waste, especially when it comes to food. Neighbourly connects local stores that have surplus with the charities and projects that can put it to good use within the community:

  • Over 15 tonnes of food have been saved from landfill through the Neighbourly platform this #ZeroWasteWeek - that's equivalent to over 22,000 meals!
  • Over 1,320 tonnes of food have been saved from landfill through the Neighbourly platform since Neighbourly Food began back in December 2015 - that's around 1.9 millions meals!

Back then, we had just over 160 charities collecting food from M&S stores nationwide. Today we have over 750 charities, community groups and non profits collecting food from M&S and now through our more recent partnership with Lidl.

And there's so much more going on out there in the big wide world to take on the goal of a zero waste society:

It's important that we all take steps to reduce our footprint, if you're interested in learning more about living a zero waste lifestyle, then check Going Zero Waste. If you're a charity or community group interested in receiving product donations then contact us at hello@neighbourly.com.


About Neighbourly

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