The REfUSE staff and volunteers are all mourning the closure of our cafe and cancellation of catering events: who would have thought we’d ever miss washing up! We miss our wonderful volunteer community and all the busy vibes of the cafe.
However, we are keeping busy! We are receiving messages every day from people who are struggling: single mums at home with premature babies or disabled kids, disabled people at home alone, people with no money to their name and nothing in the cupboards. We have no idea what will happen to levels of surplus / waste food as the crisis period sets in, and as supply chains around the world are affected in different ways, and are clear that the longer term coordinated response cannot rely on surplus food. However in the short term we are doing everything we can to support those most at risk of hunger.
- We are continuing to collect food surplus from food retailers and the hospitality industry, packing it up into boxes and bags which are then delivered as food supplies to a range of people who will otherwise struggle to keep themselves fed during the crisis. Last week (23rd-28th March) we delivered to 106 households, identified by either a direct message to ourselves, or through our community partners – Handcrafted, The People’s Pantry and Achor Church project – as most in need. The reasons for people struggling to access food will include isolation protocols, ill health, poverty and lack of social network to informally deliver.
- Handcrafted are making homemade meals that they deliver every day to around 40 of their trainees and residents in supported housing: many with chaotic backgrounds who up until now rely upon the hot meals provided at our café and Handcrafted workshops.
- We are also coordinating an online document, open for anyone to add to, in order to share what food is available around County Durham. Information and reassurance is key in this crisis, and social media can be a brilliant crowd sourcing tool.
- Finally, our volunteer support workers, who were set to launch a new project teaching employability skills and helping build confidence in those who have learning difficulties, mental health problems or other barriers to employment, are starting an online support project. This will include some creative things like vlogs and blogs sharing tips on using your store cupboard food to make easy and low-energy recipes, sharing positive stories and maintaining our supportive volunteer community online. We are also contacting all our vulnerable volunteers and customers regularly to check in on their well being.
Read our Hygiene Protocol
Please click here to view our COVID-19 Volunteering and Safeguarding Policy : our safeguarding, privacy and hygiene policies for our work at this time.