Blog | neighbourly

Fund A Fridge - our campaign to help unlock millions more meals


Today is #givingtuesday… a day all about giving, not shopping. So here at Neighbourly we're launching a new campaign to help our remarkable community food projects do even more to support those facing food poverty.

Fund A Fridge has been designed to help food charities tackle food waste and hunger in the UK by raising funds for a fridge or freezer:

  • More than 8 million people struggle to put food on the table
  • There's a potential 270,000 tonnes of edible surplus food per year that isn't being redistributed
  • At least a third of food charities don't have the cold storage needed to take more surplus
  • By improving charities’ ability to safely store chilled or fresh goods, more good food could be given to the people who need it
  • Action could help unlock 360 million meals still destined for waste

We're calling for communities to unite in the fight against food waste and take action by donating to a local cause at the front line of tackling food poverty.

The campaign has set a target of raising £30,000 from individuals and businesses. Money raised through the campaign will give up to 100 food charities access to funds for buying a new fridge/freezer or to be connected with a local team offering a refurbished one.


The campaign page and links to all the participating charities are here: neighbourly.com/fundafridge

Many people, projects and companies are now taking action to address food waste and that's fantastic, but there's plenty more to do. Helping communities to help themselves by providing fridges is a simple fix that can unlock millions more meals for hungry people.

Please join in, spread the word and do what you can :-)

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.


Nick Davies


Nov 29, 2016

15 brilliant ways to help out in your community


You’ve discovered that helping others makes you happy. Or perhaps you’ve moved to a new city and want to make connections in the local community. Either way, volunteering is a great way to do just that - and make a real difference in people’s lives.

Whether you’re freshly graduated or want to use your expertise to give back during your retirement, there are plenty of organisations that would love to have you on board. Here are just a few ideas for how you could get involved to make your community a better place, and utilise your skills and passions at the same time.


1.   Reducing food waste

If the idea of perfectly good food going in the bin makes you queasy, you can help by transporting surplus food to a charity that can feed hungry bellies, or do some basic food prep in a soup kitchen. When you have a moment, you might also lend a listening ear to their customers over a brew.

2.   Working in a charity shop

If you love interacting with people or want to get some customer service experience (often referred to as a “super skill” these days), working in your local charity shop could be perfect for you. You might also want to try your hand at visual merchandising, or if you aren’t so keen on the customer facing aspect, you can help sort donated stock instead.

3.   Befriending

Would you like to provide companionship to someone who’s lonely? Over a million older people in the UK go for over a month without speaking to anyone. So whether you’re having a friendly conversation with an elderly person or spending time with a disabled young person, socialising with them for just a couple of hours can make a big difference.

4.   Social media

Many charities don’t have the time, resources or knowledge to get the best out of their social channels and engage with their audience. So if you’re a digital native or someone who has some personal or professional experience with social media, you could do wonders to boost their social marketing.

5.   Gardening

Since plants and weeds will always grow, the green fingered among you will always be in high demand. You might like to help maintain a communal green area, work with vulnerable adults to use gardening as therapy, or teach others how to grow their own food.

6.   Farming

Want a bit of fresh air for a few hours a week? Get in touch with where your food comes from by helping out on your local community farm - clean out the animals, plant seeds or harvest some delicious produce!

7.   Building and carpentry

Being good with your hands enables you to help with a variety of tasks – from general maintenance, constructing furniture and fencing, or even a larger project like a building. You might get the run of a charity’s own workshop if there’s one available.

8.   Writing

If you fancy yourself a bit of a wordsmith, you could help local organisations with guest blogs, compile their monthly newsletter and write website copy. Those with professional experience might like to offer advice for a content strategy.

9.   Photography

Charities increasingly recognise the value of photos to help tell their story and drive supporters. You could capture some snaps at local events, or take photos of animals that arrive at your community’s re-homing centre. It’s a great opportunity to build up your portfolio, too.

10. Animal socialising

Many people love animals but aren’t in a position to have their own pet for a variety of reasons. So socialising with the animals at a local shelter is an enjoyable way to enrich their lives. Dog walking is very popular, and you can even do some “cat cuddling” as well. Less popular pursuits include playing with the ferrets – so consider the smaller animals too!

11. Stewarding

If you’re a fan of the arts, stewarding events can be a fun evening out. You’ll usually get free tickets to shows in return for your time. Look out for ongoing vacancies at your local theatre, or opportunities at an charity event in the city.

12.  Ambassador

Consider yourself a bit of an energy champion, exercise bunny or recycling hero? If you feel passionate about spreading good ideas, you might like to be an ambassador for a local cause by distributing flyers, speaking or making connections.

13. Musician

Would you love an appreciative ear while you play or sing? Take your musical talents to your local care home or children’s hospital. It’ll light up their day, and yours.

14.  Driving

Having a clean driving license and your own transport can make the activities in the list easier, especially if the beneficiary or charity is difficult to get to. You can also help by giving your neighbour a lift to their hospital appointment or, if you have a 4x4, transporting (or rescuing) people in the snow.

15. Fundraising

If you’re Mary Berry when it comes to baking, or running 26 miles appeals to you, why not try fundraising to support a charity in your neighbourhood? Perhaps you’re supremely well connected, and can gather up some momentum for your challenge!


If you have skills that haven’t been mentioned in the list, don’t be afraid to contact a charity directly and let them know what you can offer. Why not check out current volunteering opportunities on neighbourly? You can sign up to events you like with the click of a button.

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.


Content Manager

Nov 22, 2016

How to create a fundraising page on Neighbourly


You’ve set up your project page, and now you’re ready to raise some cash for a fantastic programme you want to start. Both companies and individuals can support campaigns, and fundraising on Neighbourly effortlessly puts you in front of those that want to help make your brilliant projects a reality. This makes it easier to meet your goals, and setting up your fundraising page (which we call a 'pot') takes no time at all. Here’s how.

Am I eligible?

As long as you’re a registered charity or CIC you can receive donations from members of the public via Neighbourly. Please be sure to include your registered charity number on your project page as this makes the approval process quicker. Also include your Gift Aid number, if applicable, as donors will be offered the option to include a Gift Aid declaration as part of their donation. It's worth mentioning on your main project page what you're fundraising for and what the money will be spent on, but there is more space to expand on this when you create your first 'pot' - more on that below.

Who can donate, and how?

Companies can ‘pledge’ to projects on Neighbourly, but only individuals are able to make card donations. To request card donations:

1. Log in to neighbourly.com and click on your profile (top right)

2. Go to your dashboard, then click the 'Projects' tab, followed by the 'Managing' tab. 

3. Click on your project tile and press the 'edit' button at the top of the project page

4. Scroll down about half way and make sure the box ‘I’d like to receive donations via credit card payments from individuals’ is ticked.

This will send a request to us for approval, and we’ll normally come back to you within three working days - usually sooner.

The next step is to make sure your payment account is set up and ready to receive donations. Just below the tick box mentioned above there is a ‘Connect to Stripe’ button which will direct you to set up an account with our payment provider. Click on this to either connect an existing account or set up a new one.

How do I set up my fundraising page?

It's easy! Once you've received a message from us that your project is approved, click on the ‘Fundraising’ tab on the project page and press the blue ‘Create fundraising pot’ button.

Fill in the form with a description, your fundraising goal and include an engaging image. This is your opportunity to tell people why they should donate. What work does your charity do, and why is it so important? How does this particular programme help? Why is it urgent now, rather than next year?

You can choose your start and end dates by clicking on ‘Show advanced options’ and input your dates. You can also include an optional deadline countdown on the fundraising pot by ticking the box next to this option. Bringing a sense of urgency may help drive donations.

Press save and your pot will be live on your fundraising tab, unless you’ve chosen to hide it until your future start date.


How do I get donations?

Share the page often with your own followers and supporters to spread the word. You can do this through social media, websites, emails and word of mouth in the same way you promote your project page or other appeals. Any number of companies and individuals can pledge to support a fundraising pot, which means you could potentially receive contributions from a number of sources. Hurray!


How do I receive payment?

Stripe will process donation payments, which will generally be made on a 7-day rolling basis. You’ll set up and manage your Stripe account directly with them. They will ask for authorisation from you for payments to and from of your account (the 'from' request is only for very rare cases where a donation has to be refunded due to error or card holder query). Stripe has comprehensive pre-payment verification to minimise this as much as possible. Donors will only be able to cancel a donation if they contact us within 48 hours after it is authorised on the site. After this time, they would need to contact you directly to request a refund, which will be at your discretion.

Are there any fees?

We charge a small transaction fee on every donation made to cover the costs incurred. This is currently 5% of the gross donation, exclusive of any Gift Aid. Fees are deducted automatically through Stripe before donations are credited to your account. There are no additional subscription fees.

How do I keep the momentum going?

Your project page is your ‘hub’ for updating on all your activity and campaigns. Have you reached the half way mark? Shout about it! Have you got some great stories that might drive up those valuable donations? Share them!

Feel free to set up multiple fundraising pots for different campaigns that you want to run - there's no limit.

Need help with your fundraising pots?

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.


Content Manager

Nov 17, 2016

Volunteering at The Felix Project, London


I remember when I was at school, we’d come back from the summer holidays and would have to write about a memorable day, well this is sort of one of those write ups but hopefully a bit better, and with less dinosaurs!

Working in the Neighbourly Food team is great – how could it not be? We get to work with lots of incredible projects, all of which do amazing things, helping so many people. Seeing them connected to our retailers and receiving surplus food for their communities gives it that extra feel good factor.

Working for Neighbourly means that we get regular opportunities to volunteer with some of our projects. We've recently been working closely with The Felix Project (you may have seen Matt's great blog on this) to help connect them to local retailers for surplus food donations. We're now also helping to increase their volunteer numbers – and this was the perfect project for myself and Will (also in the Neighbourly Food team) to go and help out!

To give you a little background on The Felix Project, it was set up up by Justin Byam Shaw after his son, Felix, lost his life to meningitis at the age of 14. Felix was a very caring young man and Justin wanted to find a charitable activity to commemorate his son. The Felix Project was created through seeing the great work of the Oxford Food bank which, through their model, could distribute £20 of food which would otherwise go to waste for every £1 they raised.

On arrival at The Felix Project I could see it’s a pretty impressive setup and it's clear that there has been some very hard work put in by the team and the tireless support of their volunteers. There have also been some huge donations by retailers in the area, including a donation of 5000 slightly dented tins of various organic veg!

High vis on, (I do love a high vis) myself and Will got straight to work in the warehouse with some tasks sorting out mountains of donated crisps which needed stacking on a mountain of donated spaghetti - I have never seen so much spaghetti! Our next task was to help sorting non-perishable food stuffs into trays so they could be easily loaded onto the vans ready for distribution out to the projects and charities that The Felix Project support.


Unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to go out in the beautifully liveried Felix vans, but we did get the opportunity to see a van return from a collection run and see a huge donation from Booker wholesale. The items in this donation varied from large catering-size tubs of mayo to bags of fresh salad and everything in between, including some huge boxes of Haribo!

Something that came up in conversation was that The Felix Project are struggling to find van drivers to maximise the amount of time spent making collections from across West London – If you're reading this and think you can help, do let us know – hello@neighbourly.com.

The Felix Project is an incredible project and we enjoyed the time we spent there. They are an extremely dedicated team and are working hard to connect as many projects and charities to their surplus food donations as possible. It was a real experience to get out of the office and help out at one of the projects that we see so often on the Neighbourly website. I will be certainly be volunteering there in the future for sure – who’s with me?

There's lots of opportunities to volunteer at The Felix Project - here.

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.

Oli Oldfield | Neighbourly Food

Nov 1, 2016

Algae, Blockchain and Communites: what you need to know about how tech is radically changing our relationship with food


Speaking alongside many leading voices transforming the world of food, Nick and I took the Neighbourly message to London Food Tech Week.  If you ever doubted that how we shop, eat, make and throw away food could benefit from the application of ground-breaking new tech, this event had to be seen to be believed. 

What was abundantly clear is that technology has endless potential to disrupt the way we produce, harvest, consume and recycle humanity’s most precious resource. But this isn’t just a nice to have – to cope with the increase in the world’s, population we’re going to need to more than double global food production by 2050, we use a landmass the size of China every year to grow food that we throw away, and while obesity relate diseases accelerate hunger persists.

Let me give you some fascinating examples of the solutions we saw. 

Many readers will understand the huge environmental impact of many of today’s protein sources. Microalgae certainly doesn’t sound that appetising, but that’s before the intervention of food technologists like Algama. They’re on a mission to integrate high-protein algae such as Spirulina and Chlorella into the food system to ensure future food security for all.

Do we really know where our food comes from? Block chain - a ‘distributed database’ technology can provide the un-tamperable continuous record from source, making fraud or contamination almost impossible – something the team at Chainvine are working on with the most treasured of tastes - wine. That Pinot’s tasting better already…

Taking on the issue food waste, Gusto creates recipes and sends you the right amount of ingredients to cook with. It's a simple solution that replaces a weekly shop, but means much less food ends up in the bin at the store or in the home.


But what about all of us, the consumers? How can technology educate and inspire is to change our behaviour, value our food and unlock society with that most sociable and caring of acts: eating together and feeding others?  

This was Neighbourly’s message, and it was incredibly inspiring to tap into the audience’s clear desire for more ways to play their part. 

We spoke about how Neighbourly Food is connecting supermarket surplus food with food charities. More than just tackle waste, we talked about how Neighbourly can support food charities with funding and volunteers. And how we can help people get involved locally, setting up and gaining support to feed people who are homeless, hungry, or perhaps just lonely and who need the warmth of company of breaking bread together. 

Food Tech Week was a huge success in only its second year with over 7,000 attendees across the 5 days. And as is often the case when we attend such thought-provoking events, we left wishing more people could hear the stories on offer.  

People like you, and I know we, should be more responsible about what we eat and how we buy, but we’re often unsure about what to believe and how to make a difference. Technology gives us a step in the right direction to tackle these pressing problems and bring us together through food.

Steve Haines

Head of Community Engagement

Oct 25, 2016

Charity of the Year and what I’ve learned about friendship, families and the power of communities


When I say Charity of the Year, you’re probably imagining a certificate in a frame somewhere. Or a picture of smiling people in suits ceremoniously holding a cheque…

Delve a bit deeper into the world of Marks and Spencer’s local charity partnerships and you’ll soon find that this is far from reality.

The best part of my day is reading the chosen charities’ project pages on Neighbourly and talking to them about how things are going. It’s inspiring to discover the amazing work they’re doing alongside their local store – and there are charities achieving important changes I never even knew were possible!

Here’s an example that’s really stayed with me. Calum’s Cabin Holiday Home is a charity on the Isle of Bute set up in memory of a lost loved-one. Families can visit the cabin to make lasting memories and stay in a safe and warm place, which is important for children who have cancer and cancer-related diseases. The charity also pays for the ferry to Bute and makes it possible for them to take part in activities whilst they are there.


The whole thing was Calum’s idea. After all, he and his family lived in a beautiful part of the world. Wouldn’t it be great to have children suffering from cancer come to Bute and make special irreplaceable memories?

So his family set to work. They rallied the whole community together to make Calum’s idea come to life. A local electrician donated his time to wiring up Calum’s Cabin. Lots of other people helped out by donating materials, time or gifts of money.

It’s inspiring to realise that every charity has a community of supporters willing their local project to succeed. Every new follower on Neighbourly is a new neighbour who’s been inspired by their story and wants to help…

Take another Charity of the Year, Four Marks Scout Hut Fundraising. They are raising money to build a new scout hut that the whole community is working together to make a reality. The building will be a unique gathering place at the heart of their local area. The project lead reckons she’s personally cooked 12,000 burgers at fundraising events in Alton to raise money for the cause! Children from the Scouts group have even written letters to their heroes to ask for help…


Stories like this are why meaningful partnerships like Charity of the Year are so important. They’re more than just a title. When you care so much about your charity’s mission that you live and breathe it, every new person to get behind the cause you love means the world.

Charities feel heart-warmed when a team of friendly, energetic, hardworking staff from M&S come along armed with cakes, smiles and a genuine desire to push that cause forwards and inspire the whole community to join in! As Caroline Spiers of Calum’s Cabin Holiday Home has told us, “The staff and customers are so friendly and welcoming and assist us in every way possible. It is an honour to be their charity of the year.” Every month, they hold fundraising events in their partner store M&S Paisley. Together, the store and charity are empowering more families to enjoy special holidays together.

So I’d urge you all to find your local M&S Charity of the Year on Neighbourly and share a project you want to shout about with your friends and followers! By spreading the word, you can help them unlock the potential of their communities.

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.

Beth Calverley | Community Engagement

Oct 18, 2016

Neighbourly launches 'Campaigns'

This week we launched a new campaign feature on Neighbourly which we’re excited to tell you about! Campaigns will be used by Neighbourly companies to manage community programmes and volunteering. Each campaign will have its own dedicated page, describing the initiative and pulling together all the participating projects, their photos, activity and the buzziest social content. 

Let’s have a look at Marks & Spencer’s brand new campaign page for this year’s Charity of the Year programme..

The top section gives a brief introduction to the campaign – in this case, the page is being used as a hub to support the charities that have been chosen by each of their local store teams. This top panel also shows the total amount of funds they hope to raise – through bag packs, bake sales and the like. For other campaigns this might show a target number of volunteer days, or the food surplus being redistributed.


Below this you can read a bit more about the activity. For M&S, their stores are at the heart of their communities, and that’s why they ask every one of their 600+ stores to choose a cause that they’d like to support throughout the year. Last year they raised over £900,000 for local charities and this year they’re aiming even higher.



Next you’ll see a list of all the projects taking part in the campaign. Click on any of these to have a look at what they’re up to, what help they need and how you might be able to support them – this could be anything from following or sharing their page to volunteering, or perhaps making a donation. Have a look at this example from Team Oasis in Liverpool.


The bottom of the campaign page is where you’ll find information about how to get involved – as a charity or a member of the public. On the right, you can share the campaign page to spread the word to your friends and followers!


Also check out M&S's campaign pages for the wonderful Spark Something Good volunteering programme and their Food Surplus scheme which has now redistributed over 445 tonnes of food to charity (that's over half a million meals!)

We’ll let you know through our social feeds when a new campaign is launched, so keep a look out! 

Follow us on Twitter @nbrly or www.facebook.com/nbrlyuk

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.


Content Manager

Oct 17, 2016

People are volunteering for the final week of ‘Spark Something Good’!


As winter draws closer, the work doesn’t stop! Hundreds of people will be volunteering for the final week of ‘Spark Something Good’ in Leicester and Loughborough this week. That’s not to say this fantastic campaign has ended for good, it’s just the last one of the year. We’ve seen communities across the UK flourish through people coming together for a variety of causes, all facilitated by M&S. Each city saw 24 projects transformed over a period of just 7 days, and what a ride it’s been!

Here at the Neighbourly office we’ve been (and still are) incredibly proud of all the work done by every single community, charity, member of staff, and member of the public. You’ve helped hundreds of causes grow and shine. So far the UK and Ireland has seen Bristol, Swansea, Manchester, Dublin, Leeds and Bradford, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Plymouth and Exeter, London and now, last but by all means not least, Leicester and Loughborough join in — with a huge total of over 3,300 volunteers. The last one is happening RIGHT NOW and you can still volunteer for any of the projects just by clicking HERE!

While we are sad to see it go (for now), the excitement for what comes next is fresh in the air. The next chapter of the Spark Something Good journey may be a mystery at the moment but like a child unable to sleep on Christmas Eve… we can’t wait.

From everyone at Neighbourly, we want to say the biggest THANK YOU to everyone who has been involved in any way, shape or form — you have been the driving force to your community’s success and that’s pretty special.

Until next time…

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.

Matt Aldus

Social Media Manager

Oct 12, 2016

How to create a volunteer event on Neighbourly


Recruiting volunteers no longer needs to be an uphill struggle. When you set up an event on Neighbourly, volunteers can donate their time with the click of a button and see other volunteers that are also attending - not so dissimilar to Facebook events. As well as it being easy for those signing up, it’s time-saving for you as confirming attendees and following up afterwards are automated. Set up a volunteer event page and watch the recruits roll in!

How do I set up a volunteer event?

Firstly, make sure you're logged in at neighbourly.com. Click on your profile logo, top right and select 'My dashboard' from the drop down. Select the 'Projects' tab, followed by 'Managing' - from there you can select the project that you want to use for your events. If you don't already have a project set up, or would like a new one, just click 'Create a project' - top right.


Once you're on your project page, you’ll see the ‘Volunteering’ tab. Click on that, then select the ‘Create volunteer event’ button on the right hand side. It’s as easy as that!


What information do I need to include?

Fill in all the details about your event, including a description, location, date, time and how many volunteers you need.

Here are five things you might like to include in your description:

1. Give a little background on the charity and event. For example, you might explain what your centre is used for, and what you need help with – perhaps the kitchen needs renovating as it’s not quite fit for purpose, or the garden needs a good tidy up. Or you might discuss how popular your annual open day is, and that you rely on volunteers to make it all possible.

2. Be clear about what activities volunteers will be doing on the day, whether it’s weeding, painting or setting up marquees.

3. Circle back to how your volunteers’ time and efforts will make a difference, whether it’s improving the environment for service users or being able to help even more vulnerable people.

4. Advertise the personal benefits for volunteers as well. If it’s part of a festival, do volunteers get free entry to other shows? If it’s helping to pick the harvest on a farm, might there be some free produce going?

Even if neither is the case, mentioning the free tea and coffee never goes amiss, and you can emphasise the opportunity to meet a friendly bunch of like-minded people.

5. Share some practical considerations: suggest what clothing would be appropriate and whether volunteers will need to bring a packed lunch. You should also specify a meeting point and instructions on how to get there.


How will volunteers find my event?

Your event will feature on Neighbourly’s volunteer board (so make sure it has an appealing title)!

Volunteers can use the search function to find events that match their interests and location. To make your event more discover-able, add up to 12 tags that describe the type of activities they will be doing, for example ‘painting’ or ‘gardening’.

How do I approve volunteer requests?

You can choose if you want to approve volunteer requests and whether to keep a waiting list if the event gets full.

The system will manage volunteer sign-ups and create an attendee list. If you’ve selected to approve volunteers, you’ll receive an email when someone signs up and you’ll need to pop back to the website to accept them. Once a volunteer place is approved, your volunteer will automatically get an email confirmation.

If a company would like to support your events with staff volunteers, they’ll add your project to their volunteering list. You’ll get an email when this happens and be able to offer a number of spaces to this company at each event.

How do I get more volunteers?

After publishing, get sharing! Cast that net as widely as possible on social media (and beyond) to give yourself the best chance of recruiting volunteers. Click the social icons or copy the page link into an email or other social channel.

Share opportunities regularly on social media and keep followers and volunteers up to date through posts on the news feed.


How do I follow up with volunteers?

Neighbourly follows up on your behalf. After the event, go through the volunteer list and click to confirm which people attended. Attendees will automatically receive a quick email to thank them for volunteering, and those that didn’t will receive one encouraging them to keep an eye out for other opportunities.

How many events can I set up?

You can set up as many volunteer events as you wish. Budding volunteers can keep an eye on your upcoming events via your news feed and on the volunteer notice board. A quick way to create additional events within the same project is to use the 'Clone' button.

How do I clone an event?

Click into the event listing that you want to duplicate and press the blue 'Clone this event' button which will appear on the right. If the date of the original event has gone by, select the 'Show me past events' tick box on the right and you will be able to see and click on the old listing. Once the new cloned event has been created you can edit it to include new information and dates.

Need help with your events?

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.


Content Manager

Oct 11, 2016

Food for London - setting the stage for a revolution in the way London eats?

#FoodForLondon Conf

Feeding London has stepped up a gear. Introduced by The Mayor of London, The Evening Standard convened a debate as part of its #FoodforLondon campaign last night, with the leading lights in the fight against food waste and redistributing surplus to reduce food poverty and bring communities together. 

Delivered to a packed auditorium at King’s College, made up of hundreds of people passionate about a better way of producing, selling and consuming food, the stage was set for a revolution in the way London eats. I, and our CEO Luke, were fortunate to be among them.

For campaigners and advocates of a more sustainable food system like WRAP’s Richard Swannell and Feedback’s Tristram Stuart it has been a lonely journey, fighting the good fight for years – even Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, known to many of us for his War On Waste, described himself as a Johnny-Come-Lately. 

But a critical point for me raised in the discussion was that the issue is beyond waste. It’s about how all of us value the food we eat. As Richard pointed out, we use an area the size of China to grow the food we waste every year – that can’t be how we value our food and the people who grow and prepare it, let alone the people who will go hungry tonight.  

Major retailers and producers must reduce waste across their supply chain. This will mean radical transparency, publishing their food waste figures, in detail. There are still only two retailers who do this – including Sainsbury’s, whose CEO, Mike Coupe took some flack on the panel, but credit to him for putting his head above the parapet. We still have no data standards here that could allow us to know who is doing the most. 

Home grown solutions will be needed too, like Rubies in the Rubble, which uses food surplus to make delicious jams and chutneys. Their Founder Jenny spoke eloquently about how she grew up in Scotland surrounded by this more practical, seasonal, way of cooking. The speakers agreed we’ll also need digital technology like Olio, Foodcloud and Neighbourly to facilitate and measure what’s happening with surplus.

And we need more ways of bringing together those who prepare the food we eat, like Henry Dimbleby from Leon who has helped create London Union, which brings together Britain’s best street food providers to night markets around London.

But ultimately it is about all of us - the consumers who can guide this. As Ruth Rogers from the River Café pointed out, we need a mindset change on how we choose what we eat, actively making choices for seasonal produce.

I’ve spoken to WRAP and retailers previously about labelling food - in the same way we do with nutrition statistics - about how likely the product is to go to waste. A small gesture, but it may make all of us think a little more about what we buy and what we throw away. Best before dates came up again – an issue I put together a session on with the Food Standards Agency earlier this year, with retailers, manufacturers and charities.To paraphrase Richard Swannell last night, ignore best before dates - ‘best’ is a matter of taste, the only critical date is Use By, and that means use by midnight on the date shown.

Our research with the Food Foundation showed the work of thousands of tireless community projects, like The Felix Project, who are getting food to where it is needed most, but the daily battles they face to get the support and practical tools, like fridges and transport, they need. It’s not just a matter of supply.

I am really proud of the food redistribution we’re managing at Neighbourly – this year alone more than half a million meals have been made for people who need it, from food that would have otherwise gone to waste. But I want us to do much, much, more - getting volunteers, funding and way more surplus food to the incredible charities in London and beyond. A solution needs to be simple, quick and transparent for retailers and it needs to support overall waste reduction. 

There is so much to do to bring us all together to collaborate, innovate and deliver. I want to see #FoodforLondon become Food for the UK and beyond – it’s a global problem, with an everyday solution. I hope tonight was a spur to the movement to end food waste, make sure that everyone is able to enjoy a regular nutritious meal, and support the people who produce, prepare and share food to flourish in London and beyond.

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.

Steve Haines

Head of Community Engagement

Oct 11, 2016