We REfUSE to be part of a wasteful food system. We  need to RE-think. We REscue, REclaim and RE-use, so that good food doesn’t become REfUSE.

REfUSE’s vision is to show the value in things, places and people that are unjustly wasted or overlooked. Each month we intercept around 12 tonnes of food that would otherwise go to waste, from retailers around the North East. We then redistribute it to people, through our ‘Pay As You Feel’ community cafe in Chester-le-Street, our weekly themed ‘Restaurant Nights’, partnerships with other organisations and our Waste Not Box scheme. We’re passionate about educating the next generation about the value of food, and do this through our education project “Eat Smart”. You can read more about all of these things across the rest of our website…


Up to 40% of the food produced globally is either left rotting in fields, lost along the food supply chain or dumped into landfill. We intercept tonnes and tonnes of perfectly good food that has wrongly been labelled ‘worthless’ due to scandalous systematic problems: overproduction, strict cosmetic standards, damaged packaging, incorrect labelling, seasonal packaging, best-before dates, cancelled orders… etc.

REfUSE is based in Chester-le-Street: in April 2018 we launched a creative and inclusive ‘Pay As You Feel’ community cafe on the high street. We also run restaurant nights, education projects, and a supported volunteering scheme. We are raising awareness and educating about the climate and ecological impact of food waste, building community and providing healthy food and good company to anyone that wants it.

We operate on a ‘Pay As You Feel’ basis: guests can pay for their meals in cash, but non-monetary donations of time or skills are just as valuable.  We believe PAYF encourages us to think about the true value of food: the resources, time and energy that has gone into producing it, but also includes and empowers those who may struggle to afford food.


Built by volunteers, run by volunteers, and fuelled by food waste, our cafe is a beautiful place of inclusive community and creativity.

Our opening times are:

  • Tuesday 10am-4pm
  • Wednesday 10am-4pm
  • Thursday 10am-4pm
  • Friday 10am-4pm
  • Saturday 10am-4pm

Other groups and organisations use the cafe space too –  Would you like to hire our cafe space for your event or group? Click here!



Eat Smart is an educational programme engaging primary school pupils in the causes of and solutions to food waste. Helping them to understand the scale and impact of food waste and the importance of reducing it, Eat Smart gets pupils involved in reducing waste in their school, together with the teachers and kitchen staff, by carrying out a food waste audit across the whole site and involving them all in designing solutions to tackle the problem.

Growing Projects

The Grange Villa Growing Club is a club for children aged 8-14 to learn about the environment, food growing and preparing simple meals or produce. We meet at Pelton Grange Farm in Grange Villa where we grow fruit and vegetables in the raised beds and greenhouse, forage for fruits in the orchard, meadow and woodland and prepare food with the produce we have harvested. Over the summer we made mint cordial from the herb garden and in the autumn we juiced apples from the orchard and made blackberry and apple crumble from the blackberries growing wild in the woodlands. The aim of the club is to show young children and their families how easy it can be to produce nutritious food locally and at the same time learn about seasonal food, food waste and environmental issues, learn where their food comes from and try new things.

Click here to find out more

Get Involved


We’re always looking for more volunteers!

We run our volunteering on a “Bronze, Silver, Gold” system. So no matter you previous experience, we offer you the option to come and have a go at making coffees, serving up lunch, washing dishes, cheffing a restaurant night – whatever you would like to bring to the table!

It’s really easy to volunteer with us and any time you can give would be very valued.

Email volunteering@refusedurham.org.uk to find out when our next monthly Volunteer Information session is.

Food Retailers

We can help you to reduce costs by working through strategies to reduce your food waste. Our team are experienced working with all levels of food businesses, skilled in logistics and analytics. Where food surplus is unavoidable, we can take that surplus and make sure it feeds bellies not bins. Working with us will provide an opportunity to show how you care about your community and the environment. Get in touch.