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

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 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.

Need help with your events?

Contact us at

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

Meet the London Charity Fighting Food Poverty


We've recently been lucky enough to meet a great charity that goes by the name of The Felix Project (TFP) and I wanted to explain a little bit about what they do and why it's so important. We've been working with them for a few weeks now on provision of supermarket food donations, and they have recently made the headlines with support from the Evening Standard's Food For London campaign which is gathering great pace.

The Felix Project was set up by Justin Byam Shaw whose son, Felix, sadly lost his life to Meningitis in 2014, at just 14. The tragedy led Justin on a mission to find charitable projects so he could commemorate his son. He explains Felix’s compassion for others in this memory;

"Felix was full of compassion for those who didn’t have his advantages, and what stuck in my memory was an incident at a boys’ football tournament six years ago, when Felix had been upset to discover that almost none of the opposing team of 10-year-old boys from South London had had anything to eat that day. When a friend told me about the Oxford Food Bank, I realised that children not adults were the most obvious casualties of food poverty"

It was this story that led to The Felix Project and Justin’s journey to battle food poverty. To help you understand how they work, it goes a little something like this:

1. Suppliers, like supermarkets, that have unsold food let them know they have surplus to donate

2. The Felix Project pick up the food and take it to one of their depots

3. Volunteers then sort through the food to make sure the quality is still good

4. The Felix Project then deliver the food to charities all over London

It's an idea that they originally set up in 2009 in the shape of the Oxford Food Bank which started collecting food from supermarkets and giving it to charities. The organisation, which now has over 100 volunteers, has grown year on year and in 2015 gave food worth £1.5 million to charities. With The Felix Project they plan to do in London what the Oxford Food Bank has achieved in its home city. It’s a big job and they’re going to need the help of many volunteers to drive vans and make collections and deliveries – but the prize is a fairer London where more people get a decent diet and less good food gets thrown away.

Food poverty means that an individual or household isn’t able to obtain healthy, nutritious food, or can’t get the food they want to eat. In London alone it’s estimated that at least 100,000 people live in food poverty, which is bad for health and can result in malnutrition or obesity, as well as a host of associated problems. That’s where the Felix Project is planning to make an impact - among the people who suffer the very worst diets are those who rely on the support of charities; the homeless, people suffering from mental illness, women in refuges, children, and the elderly. Because of The Felix Project, charities are able to get healthy fresh food whilst at the same time saving money and what’s more impressive is that for every £1 donation these guys get, they deliver £5 of food - pretty efficient if you ask me.

The next bit is where you come in… to get the food organised and delivered The Felix Project need volunteers! Every Friday in October they are asking for 8 helpers - 4 in their depots sorting the food and 4 out and about delivering and collecting the food. The best part is you can easily volunteer through Neighbourly by clicking here.

If you're not in London, but still want to help out, you can! Simply by sharing this article with your friends you could be helping in a much bigger way than you think. Just go to the bottom of this article and hit one of the social icons to share this article.

Just think, what would Felix do?

Matt Aldus

Social Media Manager

Oct 4, 2016

Using social media to skyrocket your fundraising campaign


Your fundraising project is amazing – it’ll help so many more people benefit from your charity’s good work, and now people need to know about it! Social media happens to be one effective megaphone, with the potential to boost fundraising results massively. It’s not surprising when Twitter boasts some 310 million monthly users and half the world’s online users are logging into Facebook.

Not only is that a lot of potential donors to tap into, but these marketing tools are also totally free. Not all charities have the budget for a designated team or even individual to devote to social media efforts, so the below tips should be fairly easy to implement.


The Basics

Before you even start tweeting, here are a few things to get to grips with:

Make social sharing super easy 

Make sure your fundraising campaign page is easy to share with designated buttons or calls to action. For example, on Neighbourly visitors are invited to share the campaign on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn below the ‘donate’ button. This offers another way to help if people don’t want to contribute financially, and prominent calls to action make it more likely to happen.


Scheduling and cross-posting 

Thankfully, we don’t need to set reminders for ourselves to tweet at 7am. Scheduling tools like Hootsuite and Tweetdeck can do all the hard work for us. There is some great data out there on the best times to post for different platforms, too. Plus, content on one platform can compliment another: your YouTube video is great content for your Twitter and (particularly) Facebook feeds, and with Instagram, you can automatically cross-post to the same platforms when you upload a photo. Three in one!



Social media isn’t just about broadcasting

By all means, don’t be afraid to schedule the same tweet more than once. We all know that it in seconds it’ll get lost in the feed. But remember that making the most of social media is about making it a conversation. Get involved in Twitter chats, ask your audience questions and respond to their comments. Consider putting aside just a few minutes a day to do this.


So, that’s the basics. What should you be posting about? Here are a few ideas: 

Tell stories, not press releases 

Compelling story telling motivated some 56% of people who supported non-profits. How do you tell stories? 

Say you need to raise £10,000 for a refurbishment. It’ll make a huge impact, but it doesn’t sound super inspiring in and of itself. Yes you’ll make a room look nicer or add in a kitchen, but what is so significant about this? Perhaps the new kitchen will provide a community space for your service users to socialize and feel at home. Show people why it’s important with an emotive video, or share quotes from people who’ve really benefited from your charity’s work accompanied by a picture of that person.



Everyone loves feeling like their effort is being appreciated. Why not shout out a thank you to those who’ve donated by tagging them, or even just a general thank you to the donations you’ve got so far?


Keep followers in the loop 

Wow, you’ve raised £5,000 in only 48 hours! Or perhaps you’re half way to your target, or a mere £500 from reaching your goal – all these milestones call for an enthusiastic post. It’s a great way to build momentum and encourage further donations. You can keep track of your fundraising on Neighbourly with a barometer showing your progress.


A picture says 1,000 words 

You might have a few professional shots up your sleeve, but don’t be afraid to upload ‘everyday’ pictures too. Using the example of a refurbishment, you might take a picture of the room as it is now and say something like: “we can’t wait for this to be transformed! Help us get there” or “the kitchen is a bit squeezed at the moment, but we’re still helping vulnerable people have a sense of normality”. 


About Neighbourly

Neighbourly is a unique giving website that can help you raise funds, find local volunteers and make business connections. It's 100% free for charities - simply create a project to get started.


Content Manager

Oct 4, 2016

How to create a fantastic experience for your volunteers (so they’ll come back to your next event!)


You’ve organised your Big Clean Up and even rallied a team of passionate volunteers to your cause. You’re considering putting on a similar event regularly, and it would be ideal if some of those recruits were repeat attenders, so you can save time on actively seeking them out each time.

Luckily, a big chunk of Brits have taken an interest in volunteering. Some 41% of people in England volunteered at least once in the past year, according to the Community Life survey, and just over a quarter (27%) said they took part at least once a month.

So how can you encourage one-off volunteers to attend your events regularly? The answer – make them as enjoyable as possible! Here are some tips on how to do that:

1. Be clear about what’s expected

When your volunteers signed up, you probably informed them of the exact nature of the activities: whether it was litter picking, weeding, painting or helping out in the office. But it’s also important to remember that your volunteers are newcomers and have a desire to belong and fit in. Make them feel comfortable on the day by being clear about what the task requires and reassuring them that you are there to help should they need anything.


2. Little details 

Having tea and coffee amenities available is an inexpensive yet thoughtful gesture of your appreciation. Volunteers congregate around refreshments, so it’s a great way to foster some mingling within the group. Make sure you join them for a cuppa at a couple of times during the day to chat. What have they enjoyed so far? What would they like to get out of the experience? Little surprises are another nice way to acknowledge their contribution, like pulling out a homemade cake at 3pm!

3. Tell your story and thank your volunteers when they arrive. 

Once everyone’s arrived and you’ve explained what the day involves, remind your volunteers about how painting the kitchen will really benefit service users and thank them sincerely for their time. You might have already done this when they signed up online, but it’s even more powerful in person. After all, it might seem like you’re just painting a room, but really you’re creating more pleasant surroundings for people who need it.

4. Encourage breaks 

Remember, people are giving up their free time; they’re not employees! So make sure you remind them that they can take a break whenever they feel like it. You’ll probably find that they are pretty hard workers. Nevertheless, provide a space where they can grab a quick drink or put their feet up for a few minutes.


5. Take a picture 

Once the community garden is all de-weeded, take a picture of your smiley, muddy volunteers beside the fruit of their labours – even better if you get a before picture, too! Share it on Facebook (with their permission first, of course), and tell them to look out for it so they can tag themselves. People love showing their friends what they’ve been up to, especially if it shows off their neighbourly side. The tagging will also make it easy for them to make contact with fellow volunteers.


6. Follow up 

Send a follow up email after the day to thank people (again) for volunteering. When you set up a volunteer event on Neighbourly, this email is sent automatically once you’ve confirmed who attended. For those who couldn’t make it in the end, they also receive an email automatically encouraging them to look out for further opportunities. If you’ve already got another event lined up, be sure to let them know.


7. Share the impact 

People love to know that they’ve made a difference. Show them what impact they’ve had by sharing a picture of service users enjoying the new space your volunteers kitted out. If they feel like they’ve made a tangible change, they’ll be back before you know it.

About Neighbourly

Neighbourly is a unique giving website that can help you raise funds, find local volunteers and make business connections. It's 100% free for charities - simply create a project to get started.


Content Manager

Oct 3, 2016

This incredible charity feeds 1000 people every single day!

Food For All

First of all, Happy Birthday! Food For All (FFA) are now celebrating 25 years! The content team at Neighbourly regularly have a read through the catalogue of amazing projects and every once in a while something catches one (or more) of our eight eyes. Today I’ve come across something I want to share with you - the Food For All project that does so much amazing work it just has to be celebrated!

'Food For All’ is a project with one key goal… zero hunger. Their journey is in full swing and it’s not just amazing when you look at the figures, it really is amazing! Presently they cook and distribute 1,000 meals per day and charge people absolutely nothing. They work tirelessly 6 days a week, all year round… providing about 30,000 meals each month! They are a regular collector of surplus food from M&S Borehamwood via the neighbourly platform. This, and other supermarket surplus schemes have helped FFA become more self-sufficient by using donated fruit and vegetables in the preparation of the meals - one of the staff told us that supermarket donations "are our lifeline, if they didn't give us anything we'd have to go buy it and we'd need massive cash donations".


Although they are in different parts of the UK, FFA are based mainly in London, where they provide nutritionally balanced meals to help people facing issues such as homelessness or families with financial challenges, amongst other things. Feeding people in need isn’t FFA’s only goal though, the ethos of the charity is that of community, to encourage and enable communities to self-help, teach new skills and ultimately end social exclusion.

Within the last 24 strong years, Food For All has achieved great results, national awards, lots of recognition and it still offers a basic life line to the ever increasing disadvantaged people in the community. Due to the drastic cuts the project has become increasingly difficult to maintain, and they are in dire need of support from those who want to make a difference.


Supermarkets and businesses that would like to help the project - please get in touch with us here at Neighbourly. Any individuals that would like to volunteer or make a donation can drop a note to the project through their Neighbourly news feed. They've had such great results and after 24 years of service no-one wants to see them go. Please help them to flourish and make that difference to your community.

About Neighbourly

Neighbourly connects 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, sharing or giving a day to volunteer.

Matt Aldus

Social Media Manager

Sep 30, 2016

You might be throwing away your most valuable asset… here’s what you can do about it


A straw poll of attendees at the recent workshop I joined to shape the future of Love Food Hate Waste was revealing: by far the majority of the people in the room were busy food lovers, balancing work and family; generous in our cooking and lacking the time to plan our meals. The bad news for us was that we were high on the list of food wasters.

Last week, The Grocer launched its new ranking of supermarkets’ efforts to tackle food waste. Another ranking was reported by The Evening Standard to launch its own food waste campaign. There are clear leaders and laggards emerging, but the league tables are significantly different. As a retailer, you could find yourself on 8th or 4th on any given day.

Both reports give credit where it’s due to the retailers working on the issue and the thousands of tireless volunteers who get this food to where it’s needed most. But it’s clear that the current state of play is nowhere near enough to tackle the disposal of perfectly good food – more than enough to feed a hungry UK – rather than redistribution.

In the coming months we can expect more action. Neighbourly has been announced among the latest signatories to the Courthuald Commitment, with its ambitious but achievable aims of a 20% reduction in food waste by 2025. 95% of the UK food retail market is now on board with this plan, setting up a powerful movement. The economic case is clear: £300 million could be saved every year by business.

But to see real change, we need to inspire a ‘new normal’ where people don’t tolerate the high rates of food waste. We need to think radically differently about our food. Even the idea of ‘waste’ puts people off the kind of enjoyable eating experience they’re looking for: rummaging through random assortment of yellow stickers might save us a few pence, but it’s not whetting our appetite.

But more importantly than that, food gives us the opportunity to unlock the potential of our communities. We all know that food is a wonderful way to bring people together, to tackle loneliness, to get healthy, and to fuel children’s learning. Wonderful projects we’ve supported, with food, volunteers and more, like Café in the Hall and Brixton Soup Kitchen show how food surplus can mean so much more than tackling waste.

We’re not just wasting food, we're literally throwing away the opportunity to engage and nourish people.

Transparency, local connection and building communities has always been the hallmark of how Neighbourly Food works. We connect stores to local charities directly and help build the relationship between them and we amplify the amazing work that they do.

Take a look at the difference it makes in this video.

About Neighbourly

Neighbourly connects 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, sharing or giving a day to volunteer.

Steve Haines

Head of Community Engagement

Sep 20, 2016