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Blog | neighbourly

Wild in the City: the time to re-connect with nature is now

Wild_in_the_city

We share a world where green spaces are more valuable than ever – from the rainforest habitats of Brazil and Peru to the recreation fields of Bristol and Bradford. Through the humble activism of gardening, people across the UK are volunteering to improve their health, get to know each other better and ensure nobody can take their community resource away from them.

Our communities are losing their most vital places for playing, keeping active and meeting with neighbours. Government funding to National Parks quartered from 2011 to 2016 and local authorities are having to prioritise core services over parks. This means something to everyone who has ever hiked through Dartmoor, kicked a ball around at their local rec or attended a summer fete in the park.

If you’re worried about where your kids will play safely after school or where your dogs will stretch their legs, you are not alone. A 38 Degrees petition to MPs on the Communities and Local Government Committee received over 323,000 signatures from people desperate to ‘Save our parks’. Sadly, this petition was rejected by the committee as being too burdensome.

It’s tempting to fall into doom and gloom, imagining the decline of our community gathering grounds to unsafe, overgrown wastelands. Yet there’s a way forward. Taking ownership of local spaces is far from a new idea. There are over 5000 Friends of Parks groups, working alongside local councils to protect our nation’s deeply loved parks. From home-grown gardening groups to budding charities and CICs, people in every community are taking local environments into their own hands.

The Conservation Volunteers is a national organisation, with a strong network of conservation hubs and Green Gyms. For Caroline Pearce from TCV, green spaces are quite literally the common ground that brings local people together: “For some they are a place to relax at the end of a busy day, for others an allotment for a future Summer harvest, for the energetic they are a playing field to burn off calories, whilst for others they provide a precious opportunity to connect with nature or catch up with old friends. These green spaces are always under threat which is why TCV's work with over 2,000 community groups across the UK is so important. We run programmes and events to help volunteers create and maintain their own unique spaces - building a green legacy for their whole community to enjoy.”

By making it easy for people to volunteer outdoors, organisations like The Conservation Volunteers re-connect residents with their environment and help communities to stay healthy and active.

Here we hit upon the guilty secret of volunteering… it’s not completely selfless. In fact, it’s incredibly good for you! Those of us who have regularly given time to dig, weed, build, or litter pick in the fresh air know this is a fantastic way to keep your heart pumping. Research by the University of Essex highlights what common sense already tells us: spending time in nature makes us feel better.

Wild in the City! is a CIC based in Croydon that enables urban residents to improve their well-being by discovering London’s beautiful pockets of nature. It started when psychotherapist Beth Collier realised that for many of the young people she met, their restrictive environment was at the root of their anger and frustration: “I was lucky enough to grow up on a small holding,” she explains. “I simply couldn’t imagine growing up in a small tower block and not learning about the support system that the natural world offers.”

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Beth realised she could use her perspective to help people use nature as a coping strategy. She began to conduct her therapy sessions in the outdoors and the self-evident transformations she saw compelled her to found Wild in the City.

Among many ground-breaking projects for both children and adults, Wild in the City now runs an incredible Summer programme for NEET (not in education, employment or training) 16-25 year olds. ‘Into The Wild’ supports young people’s personal development through interacting with each other and their environment. Participants learn practical skills like coppicing, basket-making, and tracking. Above all, they learn how nature can become a meaningful part of everyday life. “It’s always special to watch someone light a fire for the first time after persevering for ages. There’s an almost primal joy that comes to their face. I can picture that smile: happy, contented, assured.”

As our lives become increasingly fast-paced, Beth feels there’s now more of a call for rediscovery than ever - both in terms of our inter-personal relationships and our connection with nature. Businesses have an integral role to play by offering volunteer hours to their employees, encouraging them to get involved in the communities where they live and work.

Recently, Beth welcomed volunteers from Starbucks stores across the region to construct beautiful woodland furniture for Wild in the City’s brand new Outdoor Office initiative. This project will see office-based employees from local businesses coming to work in nature, building upon the theory that people are happier and more productive when they spend time in the Great Outdoors.

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You too can get involved in protecting green spaces and see for yourself the difference volunteering has on your well-being and your neighbourhood. Make a pledge to protect your environment - whether that means attending your local council meeting and compelling councillors to fund your community’s playground, or signing up for a volunteer event to conserve a nearby pocket of nature.

We all have the power to light up someone’s smile. All it takes is a little perseverance (…and maybe a pair of wellies!)

Beth Calverley

Community Manager

May 25, 2017

2 events in May that all helpful Glaswegians must know about

Stopover

There’s nowhere quite like Glasgow – known for its friendly people, effortless creativity and heroic community spirit (whatever the weather!) Every day, Glaswegians roll up their sleeves, fill a thermos and do their bit to create better opportunities for all; from support workers giving young homeless people of Glasgow the advice and kindness they need to change their situation, to groups of Uddingston residents teaming up to tackle local issues. This month, on 19th-21st May weekend is your chance to spend a day getting stuck into fun, rewarding activities alongside these local heroes.

During the 19th-21st May weekend, people across Glasgow are gathering together to take part in community events in this awesome city, one of four chosen to take part in The Body Shop’s Enriching Communities weekend along with Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds. The Body Shop is inspiring their employees, customers and neighbours to grab their wellies and paint-brushes for causes they believe in. Read on to hear more about two of the best loved community projects in Glasgow and learn how you can join the action…


Stopover Project

It is incredibly important for young people experiencing homelessness to make their voice heard – especially when they may have been told that what they have to say is unimportant in the past. Many who turn to the Stopover are experiencing major difficulties like addiction, mental health problems or a history of abuse along with their housing needs, so things can feel quite intense for them at times. They would really benefit from a relaxing, pleasant outdoor space where they can enjoy a bit of fresh air and time out when everything gets a bit much.

The Stopover has a spacious garden that they would love to transform into a vibrant social gathering space. The possibilities of this outdoor social space are incredibly exciting; the young people would be able to enjoy barbeques there during the summer and learn how to grow their own vegetables. But for homeless projects like the Stopover that provide a high level of support, one of the most precious resources is manpower. With volunteers and staff working tirelessly to make sure the residents’ needs are looked after, tasks like improving the garden can often take a back seat.

On the 21st May, you can help brighten the Stopover garden with newly planted flowers, transform the old vegetable planters so the young people can take ownership of growing some of their own food, and arrange new garden furniture to create a welcoming seating area.

A great chance to make a difference for homeless people in Glasgow while putting your gardening skills into action!

Sign up to get involved!


Uddingston Pride

Uddingston Pride is an environmental voluntary group of passionate residents who are striving to make their local area a better place to live. They thrive on making Uddingston beautiful throughout the year with seasonal flowers and community events that foster a shared sense of pride in their shared environment – from local school children learning how to use litter pickers for the first time to older residents pitching in to help make the arts and craft fair a success.

This passionate group epitomises the power of residents taking their environment into their own hands and inspiring fellow community members to get things done! You can sign up to help their big community clean up on the 20th May to enhance Crofthead Park, which has recently been renovated thanks to the efforts of Uddingston Pride.

Sign up to get involved!


Projects like these and the inspiring teams behind them are what makes Glasgow such a unique place to live. Take a look at all the events taking place during the 19th-21st May weekend. Whether you’re passionate about creating opportunities for young people, enjoy creating works of art or simply love cuddling animals, there’s a way for you to be involved.

Don’t worry if you can’t sign up yourself; you can help by sharing the news across social to let your friends and family know they can sign up to join one of these exciting events: #InOurHands.


About Neighbourly

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


May 9, 2017

How to help communities in Birmingham (while having a great weekend!)

Plants_Brook

Birmingham is a homely city with a big heart – its industrial backdrop brightened by the diverse and multicultural communities that make this city such an inspiring place to be. Day after day, local people celebrate the spirit of Birmingham by making a positive difference for their fellow Brummies: park rangers who brave the elements to promote biodiversity; support workers helping young people to gain employment skills; your next-door neighbour popping round just to check you’re ok. This month, on the weekend of 19th-21st May is your chance to spend a day getting stuck into fun, rewarding activities alongside them.

During the 19th-21st May weekend, people across Birmingham are gathering together to take part in community events in this friendly and fun-loving city, one of four cities chosen to take part in The Body Shop’s Enriching Communities weekend along with Manchester, Glasgow and Leeds. The Body Shop is inspiring their employees, customers and neighbours to grab their wellies and paint-brushes for causes they believe in. Read on to hear more about two of the best loved community projects in Birmingham and learn how you can join the action…


Sport4Life

Birmingham owes a lot to the creativity, energy and talent of its young residents - yet side-by-side with its thriving business hubs this city has some of the most disadvantaged communities in the UK. Young people born into disadvantage face an uphill struggle from the start, but through Sport4Life they can gain employability and key life skills by taking part in sports-themed personal development programmes.

This year, Sport4Life launched their first female only employability programme in Washwood Heath. This incredible new programme is designed to empower and motivate young women to aspire to great things. As part of this, they want to create a welcoming, positive, and safe environment for the participants to come to for workshops, training, and meeting up with each other. The team at Sport4Life would love you to come and help transform the centre where this essential group meets.

As Saad at Sport4Life tells us; “Without the support of volunteers, transforming our centre for young people just wouldn't be possible. The valuable time and effort of volunteers will help us to create a brighter and better space for young women who take part in our programmes, and in turn, the positive experience they have from being on our programme will support them in achieving their future goals.”

So, join Sport4Life for a day of painting on 21st May and help them bring about a level playing field where every young person is given the support to create a better future for themselves.

Sign up to get involved!


Plants Brook Nature Reserve

This vital green pocket of nature - tucked away within the residential area of Erdington - is dearly loved by all those in the know. Visitors to the park feel uplifted and renewed by the beautifully varied landscape with open water, wetland, woodland and wildflower meadows, perfect for adventuring through and discovering the green heart of Birmingham.

The heroes behind Plants Brook Nature Reserve are the dedicated team of park rangers who make it possible for people to experience and enjoy wildlife despite living and working in a busy urban area. Birmingham is one of the UK cities worst affected by air pollution and it’s incredibly important that these green spaces continue to be cared for, in order to protect the health and well-being of residents and species alike.

Park rangers across the city play a vital role in making sure parks like Plants Brook are here for all to discover. With the busy summer season approaching, the rangers need your helping hands on May 20th to make the parkland and Kingfisher Pool even more welcoming for nesting wildfowl and nectar-feeding bugs and butterflies.

With all our lives becoming increasingly busy and fast-paced, volunteering is a brilliant way to get your heart pumping and spend a few hours in the fresh air. You’ll be part of a historic line of nature-lovers who have shown Plants Brook Nature Reserve some love since it was first developed in the 1980s. So, go on - dig out your oldest, muddiest clothes and get ready to dive into the great outdoors.

Sign up to get involved!


Projects like these and the inspiring teams behind them are what makes Birmingham such a wonderful place to live. Take a look at all the events taking place during the 19th-21st May weekend. Whether you’re passionate about creating opportunities for young people, enjoy creating works of art or simply love cuddling animals, there’s a way for you to be involved.

Don’t worry if you can’t sign up yourself; you can help by sharing the news across social to let your friends and family know they can sign up to join one of these wonderful events: #InOurHands


About Neighbourly

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

Beth Calverley

Community Manager

May 8, 2017

How to show two Leeds landscapes some love in May

Leeds_Towpath

Everyone who has strolled past Hyde Park on a beautiful Spring day - passing gardeners wheeling barrows to the allotment - or taken a rejuvenating walk along the canal path, knows what a beautiful place Leeds is to live. And thanks to a lively movement of charity organisers, volunteers, creatives and gardeners, this city’s communities are strengthening every day. This month, on the weekend of 19th-21st May, is your chance to spend a day in the fresh air making a difference alongside them.

During the 19th-21st May weekend, people across the city are gathering together to take part in community events in Leeds, one of four cities chosen to take part in The Body Shop’s Enriching Communities weekend along with Birmingham, Glasgow and Manchester. The Body Shop is inspiring their employees, customers and neighbours to grab their wellies and paint-brushes for causes they believe in. Read on to learn how you can join the action – and feel for yourself the boost in energy and mental well-being that’s getting people across Leeds hooked on environmental volunteering…


Hyde Park Source

It’s a good bet you’ve spotted this group of hard-working gardeners in various green nooks and crannies around Leeds and wondered what they’re all about. Well, your days of wondering are over! Hyde Park Source are committed to improving local people's well-being through enhancing their environment. Their mission is simple but essential: empowering communities to look after and develop their surroundings through workshops, training, activities and a fantastic tool library for everyone to use.

The Hyde Park Source team would love you to come along on 21st May and help transform their base into a motivational volunteer hub by putting up furniture, painting, and bringing the space to life with notice-boards and pictures.

Behla, the volunteer coordinator at Hyde Park Source, says it’s important that newcomers feel a connection as soon as they arrive: “We would like to give visitors and volunteers an immediate sense of what we are all about as a group!”

The day will also be a great chance to try out your gardening skills. Nearby residents have asked for some help to enhance Rosebank Park, which is a lovely outdoor space used by the whole community. There’s an "amphitheatre" in the park where live bands often play during the Summer and it will be fantastic to mount some mosaics on the walls to jazz up this al fresco venue.

The park is an important community asset that is in the hands of residents to look after, so every bit of help makes a real difference. And there’s no better way to get some fresh air and recover from mental fatigue after a hard week at work or busy exam period… so go on, treat yourself!

Sign up to get involved!


Canal & River Trust - Leeds Towpath Taskforce

It’s true that if you really want to feel close to Leeds as a city, you should get to know your local canal. And if the canals are the veins of this city’s history, volunteers are its life-blood.

The Leeds-Liverpool canal flourished during the rise of industry and manufacturing in the North. Today, it’s a beautiful oasis in the heart of Leeds where you can head down to see residents of all ages cycling, walking, fishing, visiting the museum at Armley Mills and simply enjoying being close to their local waterway away from the bustle of the centre. Yet if it weren't for a few dedicated waterway enthusiasts in the 1950s and 1960s working hard to save the canal, we may have lost it forever! The Canal & River Trust’s Leeds team works hard to make sure this never happens.

If you’ve been looking for a way to get involved in your local canal then the Towpath Taskforce on 19th May is the perfect opportunity for you. Spend a few active hours in the great outdoors learning practical skills and having a laugh while improving your local waterway for humans and wildlife alike. Who knows… you may even get the bug to come back again.

Sign up to get involved!


Projects like these and the inspiring teams behind them are what makes Leeds such a wonderful place to live or study. Take a look at all the events taking place during the 19th-21st May weekend. Whether you’re passionate about creating opportunities for young people, enjoy creating works of art or simply love cuddling animals, there’s a way for you to be involved.

Don’t worry if you can’t sign up yourself; you can help by sharing the news across social to let your friends and family know they can sign up to join one of these brilliant events: #InOurHands.


About Neighbourly

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

Beth Calverley

Community Manager

May 8, 2017

3 fun ways to take action for Manchester communities

Whitemoss

Big up Manchester – a place of helpful neighbours, kind deeds and loyal friendships. All over the city, residents are helping to make lives better daily; from animal-lovers in Sale who spend their free time caring for abandoned pets to a dedicated partnership in Old Trafford, working hard to create a community centre from scratch! This month, on the weekend of 19th-21st May its your chance to spend a day getting stuck into fun, rewarding activities alongside them.

During the 19th-21st May weekend, people across Manchester are gathering together to take part in three community events in the city, one of four chosen to take part in The Body Shop’s Enriching Communities weekend along with Birmingham, Glasgow and Leeds. The Body Shop is inspiring their employees, customers and neighbours to grab their wellies and paint-brushes for causes they believe in. Read on to hear more about three of Manchester’s best loved community projects and how you can join the action…


Society for Abandoned Animals

The Peggy Henderson Animal Sanctuary, based at the beautiful Mosely Acre Farm in Sale, is run by an inspiring local animal charity called the Society for Abandoned Animals.

The force behind this inspiring sanctuary is a team of passionate animal lovers working in their evenings and weekends to care for and re-home unwanted cats and rabbits. Many of the animals at the sanctuary have not had the best start in life and the team at Mosely Acre Farm looks after them until they are matched with supportive new families.

The sanctuary desperately needs to refurbish their enclosures as there’s a growing list of animals waiting to come in and some of the pens are falling into disuse. They urgently want to welcome more unwanted animals to the farm where they will be safe and looked after.

If you’re a fellow animal lover, sign up to spend a day painting and doing DIY at one of Manchester’s most inspiring animal sanctuaries. Oh, and get ready for plenty of animal cuddling throughout the day!

Sign up to take part!


Globe Community Centre

Globe Community Centre in Old Trafford is a partnership of organisations set up so they can achieve more by working together. They run enjoyable activities so local families and individuals can learn to help themselves relax in times of stress, have fun family experiences and importantly some ‘me time’.

Over the past 18 months, the community partnership has been rapidly transforming an empty, unused building into a wonderful community hub. Globe has received lots of support from local businesses, including Marks and Spencer who donate surplus food to the centre, Lidl who have pledged to send them a fridge and Heineken who has helped with financial donations.

Marva, the project lead, sums up why Globe means so much to community members: “We believe Globe means somewhere they can belong to”. In a world where strong, caring communities are becoming ever more important, the fact that local people have somewhere they feel a sense of belonging makes the months of hard work worthwhile.

The centre is hosting a public viewing of the achievements that have taken place at the centre over the last 18 months. During the day, you can help them to develop the new Globe allotment where young people will be able to grow their own produce. Creative types among you can also help paint an inspiring phoenix mural to represent their motto, ‘Rise Again’. With your help, they’ll create a lasting artwork to remind Manchester’s communities that we can always achieve what we set our hearts on.

Sign up to take part!


Whitemoss Community Centre

Whitemoss Youth Club has become the lively centre it is today due to decades of community-minded Mancunians taking steps for young residents. In 1967, a group of passionate volunteers raised funds to build new premises for the club. Today, everybody knows the centre as a hub of the community, offering opportunities for children, young people and volunteers to play, work and make new friends. 

John Biggs, who manages the centre, has been celebrated for his contribution to Manchester’s communities. He’s been crowned Mancunian of the Year, carried the Commonwealth Games baton in Manchester, and received the British Empire Medal! The centre has incredible local support and John explains that it’s a real family effort - “My son has volunteered at the centre for 22 years and my wife was one of the first girls who joined the centre when it changed from a Boys Club to a Youth club, allowing both Boys and Girls to use the facilities.”

The team at Whitemoss is very proud of their efforts to improve the local environment. They've developed a beautiful sensory garden and would love you to sign up for a day of gardening to improve it for the young people and wider community who visit the centre.

Sign up to take part!


Projects like these and the inspiring teams behind them are what makes Manchester a fantastic place to live. Take a look at all the events taking place during the 19th-21st May weekend. Whether you’re passionate about creating opportunities for young people, enjoy creating works of art or simply love cuddling animals, there’s a way for you to be involved.

Don’t worry if you can’t sign up yourself; you can help by sharing the news across social media to let your friends and family know they can sign up to join one of these wonderful events: #InOurHands.


About Neighbourly

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

Beth Calverley

Community Manager

May 8, 2017

Food waste: How we can accelerate the pace of change

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The problem of food waste in England is piling up. If the case hadn’t already been made strongly enough, Parliament’s Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee has labelled the economic, environmental and social effects as ‘grotesque’. Its recently published report on Food Waste in England was brought forward as the election was called, and they ask their successor committee to return to the issue, but it still makes for a clarion call to action to tackle the problem of food waste.

For all of us seeking to reduce food waste and to support redistribution there are important points to understand and respond to, which I’ve set out here. And there are areas where the report could go further to take on the problem, in my view, to accelerate the pace of change.

The report shows that there are real challenges in how the waste system is currently set up. The accepted waste hierarchy puts reduction first, then redistribution, and then way to dispose of unused food. But in practice the incentives either aren’t known or don’t exist to the level needed to enforce this structure in practice. Along with publicising the current incentives, there is an interesting recommendation for a fund to be set up. What this adds up to is the need for a business case to be built. It simply has to make more sense to reduce first, then redistribute food, not only because it is irrefutably the right thing to do, but because it makes for good business.

Then there is the issue of more and better data and transparency. One of things we’ve always stood for at Neighbourly is the transparency of donations. We’re working with our clients on more and better data for redistribution. The sheer weight of data and the reality that it wasn’t necessarily set up to report what we need means we have a mountain to climb. It’s an area that would benefit from real investment and cross industry collaboration.

It’s also very positive to see that WRAP and the work of Courtauld 2025 gets support. The Food Surplus Redistribution Working Group of Courtauld 2025 is a positive, collaborative effort. But Courtauld needs to be allowed to drive a strong vision and go a lot faster. The support that the Committee asks for WRAP can give it the resources it needs to accelerate its work. And extending the membership to include more manufacturers, as well as strengthening the commitment itself, can only be a good thing.

There are some critical sections of the report for food charities too, which deserved to make the recommendations more clearly. Our research with the Food Foundation, which formed part of our co-hosted seminar with the Food Standards Agency showed a snapshot of the critical capacity gaps charities face. Our FundAFridge campaign, kindly supported by Lidl, helped around 50 charities get a new fridge or freezer, helping them keep food safe and fresher for longer. 

Charities can also get funds and volunteers for their work, as well as food, through Neighbourly. This kind of support is critical, and there are many ways to support, for example the Committee talks about how haulage companies can help with the transport challenges. What we need to see is a Government supported campaign to get more support and resources to food charities for the incredible work they do, and companies who can help in so many ways from transport providers, to volunteers with logistics, data or marketing skills, to community fundraisers, corralling to creatively help address these gaps. 

It’s time for us all to focus our energy behind this issue. The case has been made, the need is clear, so let’s unlock some of this latent potential and take on the problem together.


Find out about distributing your surplus through Neighbourly.

Want to join our scheme as a food recipient? Email food@neighbourly.com

Steve Haines

Head of Community Engagement

May 2, 2017

The story of surplus: The Whitechapel Centre, Liverpool

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A hot breakfast is a big deal for those who visit the Whitechapel Centre, Liverpool’s leading homeless and housing charity.

Many people who use the centre are sleeping rough, and it gives them a chance to make a positive change and find a way out of homelessness. Whitechapel offers a wealth of services to help get people back on track, such as advice on housing and employment, and they also provide basic facilities – including a lovely hot breakfast.

A simple morning meal – which the centre provides every day – may not sound like much, but can really help. Being homeless already leads to increased levels of stress and anxiety, and being low on sustenance can make this state of mind even worse. It’s not just a myth that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

Just providing some protein can help people feel more alert, calm and receptive. Better yet, a meal is a gesture of kindness that some vulnerable individuals haven’t experienced in some time. Post shower, breakfast and putting on some clean clothes, those that have dropped in may be more likely to open up and explain what their needs are.

And there’s another perk to this breakfast, and the other meals the centre provides throughout the day - it’s made with surplus food. Neighbourly has now redistributed over one million meals to charities like the Whitechapel Centre through its platform, with the scheme donating between 90,000 and 100,000 meals every month. Nearly 20% of the charities or groups picking up the food are homeless services.

Retailers like Marks and Spencer post their unsold food, allowing charities to choose what they need and then pick it up. Charities can also create alerts for particular items they need.

The White Chapel Centre picks up food everyday, with any excess being distributed further to other hostels and agencies.

Project lead for the White Chapel Centre, Sheila Farrelly, says she has good relationships with managers at the various stores. Each night’s surplus is different, she says – an example offering being fruit, bread, pastries and some tinned food – but whatever turns up, receiving the donation really makes a difference. “There isn’t always a budget for food,” Sheila explains. “It’s often last on the list… so any financial donations they can get they can use for something else.” Take the breakfast that the centre provides every morning. Even if you spent £30 a week on bread, that’s in the region of £1,500 a year, Sheila notes – and that doesn’t include fruit and other items.

And Sheila points out that the surplus they receive is “nice food”. Only a couple of weeks ago, she took some of the Marks and Spencer managers to meet some of lads at one of the hostels connected with the Whitechapel Centre, who shared how much they appreciated the food. Having a Marks and Spencer cake is a real luxury for those in hostels, says Sheila . “When they were living on the streets they were going through bins, and now they’re sitting back with a cup of coffee and a good quality pastry or a cake.”

And food is just the beginning – the centre wants to help people find a home and learn the life skills needed for independent living. But having a good meal is certainly an important step.


About Neighbourly

Neighbourly matches charity and community projects with people and companies that can donate time, money or surplus food.

Currently, the Neighbourly Food scheme sees between 90,000 and 100,000 meals donated per month.

Charities: join us! You can get your free project page started here

Businesses: email us about redistributing your surplus on hello@neighbourly.com

Jane

Content Manager

Apr 4, 2017

The story of surplus: City Harvest London

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City Harvest’s refrigerated vans are greeted with excitement – that’s because they’re bringing some of London’s best food produce to help serve up a healthy and nutritious meal to those who need it.

“The chefs at soup kitchens and other community food programmes take as much pride in their cooking as chefs at any restaurant,” says Laura Winningham, City Harvest London’s CEO. “They appreciate good food, fresh produce and the chance to enable people facing adversity to eat great meals with dignity.”

And City Harvest is just one of the recipients who’s had a share of Neighbourly’s one million meals – that’s over 930 tonnes of surplus food that the platform has redistributed. Neighbourly’s technology links retailers with surplus to organisations that need it, helping to keep perfectly edible food out of the bin and into hungry bellies.

The food that City Harvest collects and ultimately delivers in the community enables these chefs to “work with fantastic ingredients, that otherwise would have gone to waste, and for people to get nourished and turn their lives around.”

Launched in the capital in 2014, the non-profit distributes to organisations that feed the hungry, from homeless shelters and soup kitchens to after school programs and centres for veterans.

Among other donors, Marks and Spencer helps City Harvest put high quality food on the table, and the technology has made this process simple and efficient, says Winningham.

Crucially, the surplus alerts - detailing what foods are available - give City Harvest a chance to do some advanced planning. “Each charity recipient has unique food needs and dietary requirements so we need to allocate food accordingly. When food donors don’t give us advanced notice, it is more challenging for our drivers on their routes.”

M&S stores across London alert City Harvest’s logistics team whenever food is available – usually several times per week - and then drivers add these deliveries to their daily routes. Just one City Harvest van delivers 1,000 meals each day.

Winningham says that technology is an important step in valuing food in the circular economy in London. “By the end of the day, this nutritious food that might have been wasted has been delivered to deeply appreciative community meal programs and served in meals to vulnerable individuals whose lives are enhanced by the donations.”

Surplus food donations have enabled City Harvest to feed thousands of people nutritious meals and continue to add more routes across London. “As we do this we hope to connect with more stores and make an even greater impact.”

And it’s important to City Harvest’s drivers too, with many having at some point experienced adversity, food poverty or homelessness. “Our drivers appreciate the high quality of food collected and are proud to be making the deliveries,” says Winningham.

Not only does this help the charities that City Harvest delivers to keep food budgets down, but these funds can be redirected into other vital services for their clients.


About Neighbourly

Neighbourly matches charity and community projects with people and companies that can donate time, money or surplus food.

Currently, the Neighbourly Food scheme sees between 90,000 and 100,000 meals donated per month.

Charities: join us! You can get your free project page started here

Businesses: email us about redistributing your surplus on hello@neighbourly.com

Jane

Content Manager

Apr 4, 2017

The story of surplus: Clifton Green Primary Snack Shack

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In the playground outside Clifton Green Primary School, children and grown-ups alike are enjoying some freshly-made onion soup. At this time of year, soup is a regular offering, as are French bread pizzas, baskets of fruits or vegetables along with yesterday's bread - which can be turned into garlic bread, or just taken home to toast.

These are all typical bites at the York school’s pop-up Snack Shack run by children and parents at the school. Kids and grown-ups can pick up a healthy snack to take on their way home, giving a Pay As You Feel donation – whether that’s parents popping some pennies in pot, or perhaps spending an hour reading with the children in school or helping with the chickens. The idea is that money shouldn’t be a barrier, and any money that is raised helps subsidise the cost of school trips.

Not only do the kids run the stall, but they also make and design the food, giving students a glimpse into the exciting world of cooking and retail, and providing some handy life skills.

The Snack Shack feeds around 100-150 pupils per week, and best of all, from food that would otherwise be wasted. Food that has reached its 'display until' date is collected and transformed into great snacks to eat after school, giving children a chance to learn how to make food using ingredients otherwise destined for the bin.

Using the Neighbourly platform, which has now distributed over one million meals to around 620 charities and groups like Clifton Green, the primary school is connected to retailers with surplus food. The school can set up alerts to find out what’s available and arrange collection.

The project wouldn’t be sustainable – or as successful – as it is without this surplus food, says food development manager at Clifton Green, Lisa Green. What began as an enterprise initiative for the school’s Year 6 children has now become a valued project. “People have come to expect to see The Snack Shack set up. Many children have tasted food and ingredients that are new to them. It also encourages a sense or spirit of recipe sharing and a shared love of food.”

The school receives food twice a week, depending on availability. Parents and children in years five and six run the Snack Shack, bringing the school together and creating a sense of community, as well as cutting costs at home. It has had great feedback from parents, who say the children value the responsibility and get a sense of working life, says Green.

By running the Snack Shack, the school’s children and grown-ups have better access to a variety of fresh food - some of which they might not have tasted before. According to some reports, most children don’t get their recommended five a day. “We hope that it intercepts some of the less healthy foods that we sometimes eat when we are hungry.”

And it’s just as good for the parents an teachers, too. Parent Adeola who helps run Snack Shack said, “being involved with the Snack Shack has helped me to meet a lot of new people; it helps to break down barriers. Food brings everyone's love out.”

 

About Neighbourly

Neighbourly matches charity and community projects with people and companies that can donate time, money or surplus food.

Currently, the Neighbourly Food scheme sees between 90,000 and 100,000 meals donated per month.

Charities: join us! You can get your free project page started here

Businesses: email us about redistributing your surplus on hello@neighbourly.com

Jane

Content Manager

Apr 4, 2017

10 ways to use up bread

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Whether we’re grabbing a sandwich in our lunch hour or having a cheeky slice of buttered toast after a night out, us Brits love bread. It seems strange then that bread is the most wasted food here in the UK. Nearly half of us eat bread every day, yet we throw away 24 million slices of bread every day. Worse yet, one in five of us have thrown a loaf away without even opening it.

But, as the old saying goes, it doesn’t have to be this way. With these few basic tips you can give your loaf the longest life possible, get creative and also have some fun with it.

1.   Freeze it

If you have a decent sized freezer, you can have your bread and eat it – simply take a slice out and pop it in the toaster whenever you fancy it. Waste avoided. If you have a look in your supermarket’s reduced section, it’s quite possible to spend mere pence on a loaf to save some cash. If it’s an un-sliced loaf, slice before freezing.

On a side note, putting it in the fridge actually makes it go off quicker.

2.   Bread and butter pudding

Mop up those sad slices of old bread by whipping up a bread and butter pudding. There are various takes on it, but this easy recipe says you can prep it in five minutes. Throw in your bread with some fridge and cupboard essentials and voila – perfect comfort food.

3.   Breadcrumbs

If your kids leave their crusts, or you don't like those end bits, here’s a perfect ways to use them up. Pop them in a food processor to transform them into a versatile ingredient. Impressive on mac’n’cheese, breadcrumbs are also handy as a binding ingredient to make your own burgers. Thicken a soup into a filling meal or throw them into an easy meatloaf. If ever there was an excuse to get creative in the kitchen, this is one.

4.   French Toast

Does a better way exist to cheer everyone up on a lazy Sunday morning than French toast? Grab your bread, egg, milk and the vanilla extract and cinnamon from the back of the cupboard, dip then fry. Tres bon.

5.   Croutons

Cheer up any salad or pasta dish (and impress your friends) with homemade croutons. Chop, oil and fry cubes of bread or pop them in the oven for a few minutes and they’ll be good for a few days. Why not make them chunkier for a Bruschetta style base? Top with mozzarella, tomatoes, balsamic vinegar and fresh basil for a great appetiser.

6.   Ale

If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can transform that extra bread into tasty ale. The brilliant Toast Ale have kindly open-sourced their recipe to encourage bread waste-busting home brewers.

7.   Toast 2.0

Now’s your chance to take things to the next level: if you’ve never really got on the avocado toast bandwagon, this is the time to dip your toe. What about peanut butter and banana for an energy-boosting snack? Or peanut butter and Nutella for a delicious, Reese’s Cups-inspired dessert. Then there's always poached egg and spinach. Or simply channel your inner Paddington bear and let loose with the marmalade. The possibilities are endless.

8.   Stuffing

Give stale bread a seat at the holiday table by teaming it with an onion and plenty of seasoning to make a delicious stuffing. Good inside or outside a turkey.

9.   Cheese fondue

Be like the Swiss and get on the phone to your cheese loving friends pronto. Tear or cut your bread into chunks and this 15-minute no-fuss recipe will get you a bubbling pot of cheese fondue in no time.

10. Bread sauce

Bread that is a bit dried out or stale also makes the best Sunday dinner sauce. You don't have to wait for Christmas - double cream, a bay leaf and a bit of onion elevate a simple bread sauce to something great for any roast poultry dinner. Try this easy french bread sauce if you have a french stick that is past its best.

 

About Neighbourly

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

Charities: get your project started here

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

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

Jane

Content Manager

Mar 30, 2017