COVID-19 Update 19th March

Following the advice given by the Government on Monday 16th March, discussion with health care professionals we know and other local organisations, we have made the difficult decision to close the café. We want to take a lead in protecting the health of our customers and volunteers, particularly those who are most vulnerable, and gathering at our café comes under the “non-essential contact” that we’ve been asked to avoid.

The café is closed until further notice, and all our upcoming events are also cancelled or postponed. 

We are working hard this week to work out how we can still be REfUSE, the brilliant supportive community it is, without the café open. Lots of our volunteers and customers are particularly vulnerable due to poor health, being elderly, suffering mental health problems or just being lonely without the community that REfUSE cafe offers. We also know a number of people who are already struggling financially because of the virus, having lost freelance or zero-hours work with kids to feed and the prospect of no free school meals. We want to do as much as we can to help.

 

1 – We’re teaming up with the brilliant charity, Handcrafted, as we cook and box up meals every day that they then deliver to all their trainees who are living on their own and reliant on the hot meals they normally get from REfUSE and Handcrafted every day. Handcrafted support workers are delivering the meals along with some much-needed  human contact and pastoral support, however that is safest to do.

2 – We’re opening the cafe’s front doors on Saturday to give out home cooked, boxed and labelled food for people to reheat at home. This is open to anyone who comes for it, PAYF as normal, but we’re asking you to be sensible and aware of others: we want this food to go to the people that most need it, who may not have access to shops or ability to cook at home. If you know of anyone that might fit this category, not able to find support elsewhere, then please come and pick up some boxes (4 per person) from our doors on Saturday, between 11am and 2pm. We will be taking PAYF contributions by card only, and by just handing pre-packed food at the door we encourage people not to queue or gather together. Please do not come if you are unwell or displaying any symptoms.

3 – We’re boxing up food to deliver once a week to those we know are struggling, whether because they’re isolated or have lost income because of the virus.  At the moment we’ve got 55 households known to us that will receive a parcel once a week. This, we think, is our capacity in terms of food we have in, as we don’t know how much food we will be getting in over the next week.

How YOU Can Help

SUPPORT:

First and foremost, we need some financial support to deliver these services. We’re losing income as events are cancelled and the cafe is closed, but still have rent and bills to pay. We would hugely appreciate anything you can give to help both ourselves and Handcrafted as we navigate the next few weeks.

Here’s a link to our joint Crowdfunding page.

FOOD:

If you are a business and you have food that will go to waste, we want it. Email jonny@refusedurham.org.uk with a phone number.

We can accept;

  • Any un-prepared food (i.e. raw ingredients; meat, fish, veg, cheese, milk, bread, etc) that has been stored correctly, whether that be fridge, freezer, or ambient.
  • Prepared foods (e.g coleslaws or salads that have been made up by the food business) that are chilled and are still suitable for use for the next 48 hours.
  • Any drinks, snacks or crisps that are packaged, even if they are past best before date.

We cannot accept:

  • Any ingredients or dishes that have been hot held – e.g. curries, meats, rice, etc that has been cooked and held at a hot serving temperature, as it will not be suitable for reuse.
  • Any products that are past Use By date.
  • Pre-prepared sandwiches (because they tend to need using on that day, and we can’t get them delivered in time to be useful)

HUMANS:

As our operation grows to support more people, we may also need volunteer chefs and drivers. We’re going to have to be really cautious about how we work with volunteers, because we need to make sure we’re not adding to the spread of the virus, but if you are fit and healthy, and you have skills that could help, please do get in touch on volunteering@refusedurham.org.uk

If you feel like you can help with anything else, please do feel free to get in touch with the team on refusecic@gmail.com or on 07561 765264

If you’re in self isolation and you’re struggling to get food, or you’re worried about someone else, you can contact us in the same ways above. Please only contact us if there’s no one else who can help locally, we can only do so much, and we’ll help as many people as we can.

Bear with us as we get going, we’re rethinking everything and there is still so much unknown over the next few weeks – things might change tomorrow, for all we know. If you do get in touch with us, and we take a little while to get back to you, forgive us. If it’s urgent / really time sensitive, call us on the phone.

Lots of love and peace from all at REfUSE in this strange time. Keep washing your hands, and love your neighbour as yourself X

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