Hope CIC cost of living crisis support

by Mahesh Hettirachchi in Cambridge, England, United Kingdom

We did it
On 25th March 2024 we successfully raised £26,880 with 101 supporters in 42 days

To purchase an electric vehicle to operate a Mobile Food Hub covering villages in South Cambs ensuring people have access to affordable food

by Mahesh Hettirachchi in Cambridge, England, United Kingdom

 New stretch target

We are hoping to use the extra funding to support and continue our following services and explore the possibility of expanding.

 Cambourne Community Food Project in Partnership with Cambourne Town Council:

 Our Community Shop is open on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 10 am to 1 pm at the Hub Community Centre in Cambourne. We collect surplus food from major supermarkets and other local shops, helping the environment by preventing 500 kg of food waste from ending up in landfills every week. Additionally, we also buy from wholesalers to cater to the increasing demand. Currently, over 150 residents access our service each week, with more than 600 registered members.

 Mobile Food Van - Hope on the Go:

 This project, in association with SCDC and relevant Parish Councils, operates five days a week. The van visits outlying villages across South Cambridgeshire that do not have access to a food hub within a reasonable radius. Users are registered for the Food Hub and have access to free and subsidized food and household items.

 Community Hub in partnership with Cambourne Town Council:

 Open on Monday and Friday mornings (9:30 am - 1 pm) at the Hub Community Centre in Cambourne, this hub offers an opportunity for people to socialize, seek help and support, and enjoy some free refreshments. During the winter months, hot food may also be available.

 Drop-In Appointments - In partnership with SCDC:

 HOPE CIC has an office at the SCDC building in Cambourne, providing options for confidential appointments to support people who are experiencing financial difficulties regardless of their backgrounds. Staff can also direct users to relevant contacts or approach organizations/departments as representatives of service users (e.g., housing, medical issues, benefits, etc.).

 Hope CIC emergency food parcel delivery service:

 In partnership with South Cambridgeshire County Council, we launched our emergency food parcel delivery service in 2022. We accept referrals from various organizations and also accept self-referrals from residents who are experiencing emergency issues. They can find the emergency food parcel request form on our website, and we deliver a tailor-made food parcel considering their dietary or religious requirements.

 English Language Sessions in Partnership with Cambourne Library:

 An opportunity for non-native English speakers to meet in small, informal groups to improve their conversation skills. Struggling to communicate presents a barrier to accessing employment, support, and creating local friendships. The sessions will be guided by a qualified CELTA mentor who will assess existing levels of language skills to provide the most effective support possible.

 Bike Surgeries:

 In Cambourne, we offer a free bike repair/maintenance service. Volunteers will provide bike repair and maintenance services to encourage the use of green transport methods.

 Christmas Hamper Project:

 Our Christmas hamper project started in 2022, and this year we delivered 110 tailor-made Christmas hampers to residences across South Cambridgeshire. We received nominations from various individuals, organizations, schools, housing associations, and charities, and we managed to address all of them regardless of the recipients' backgrounds.

What is Hope CIC and how it started

In October 2021, Hope CIC initially launched ‘the food project’ as a community shop in Cambourne (town in South Cambridgeshire) which was set up to support people after the financial effects of Covid-19 and the cost of living crisis. The shop stocks essential items such as; long lasting food (cereal, pasta, canned food), fresh food (fruit and vegetables, bread, milk), and household, personal hygiene and infant products. The shop now opens 3 days a week providing affordable and free food to service users.



The success of this project quickly became apparent to South Cambridgeshire District Council and how the project would benefit other communities in the area. With thanks to funding from SCDC, the mobile food hubs - Hope on the Go – launched in June 2023.   Villages in the South Cambridgeshire area were chosen based on census deprivation data and locality of existing foodbanks. Presently, the mobile food hub now visits 6 villages on a weekly basis. The mobile food hub is accessible to anyone to use, but is particularly a lifeline for those who may be financially feeling the effects of price increases (from not only food, but bills too), those who cannot easily travel to a supermarket, or who may need assistance when shopping. The mobile food hub allows these people to keep their independence and keeps their shopping for essentials affordable, whilst a secondary benefit being the impact of reducing food waste to landfill.


Other projects Hope CIC co-ordinates:

  • Emergency food parcels - arrange food parcels with the support of South Cambs District Council (this can be self-referral and does not require a ‘food bank voucher’)
  • Community hub - runs twice a week with free refreshments in a warm, friendly environment. A 'thrift shop' runs alongside this with very affordable second hand (and new) clothing and household items.
  • Support sessions - by appointment for those that may require assistance/advice with free energy and food vouchers, housing, bills, money management?, school admissions, and CV writing.
  • English lessons - weekly lessons which are provided by a CELTA qualified tutor supporting people with learning the English language, practicing speaking, reading and writing.
  • Bike surgeries - run in the warmer months with free minor repairs, maintenance advice and selling affordable refurbished bikes.

Previous projects include: upcycling workshops, annual Christmas hamper campaign, Men’s support service, DIY course for Women.



Mobile Food Hub - Hope on the Go

The mobile food hub project has now been running for 6 months and the demand for the service continues to increase. Hope CIC are supporting individuals and families across South Cambridgeshire with around 1000 service users registered, and on average 200 each week/month.

The mobile food hub operates from a small van (diesel), which is filled with stock similar to what our community shop in Cambourne provides. It also contains a table for us to display some items, and a marquee for shelter in poor weather. It is becoming increasingly difficult each week to fill the van with all the food and items required.


The benefits of a new electric vehicle

We are fundraising to purchase a new electric vehicle which will be larger in size and properly facilitate the mobile food hub. The van will be fitted with shelving, and items will be displayed just as it is in the community shop. Service users will be able to shop as they would normally, rather than from crates and a table at the back of a van. This is much more dignified way for people to shop for their essential items.


By transitioning to an electric van, we are taking a proactive step towards reducing our carbon footprint and contributing to a cleaner and greener environment. We have estimated that switching to an electric vehicle for this project could save around 4,800kg of carbon emissions per year. If the project expands to service more villages, this number could raise even higher. This was calculated using the average amount of CO2 saved by switching from diesel to electric as 240g per mile (Commercial Fleet, 2023). The estimated annual mileage of the vehicle is 20,000 miles, this includes trips to the 6 villages each week, emergency food parcel deliveries, collecting donations and supplies from supermarkets. Therefore, per year, the carbon savings will be 20,000 miles x 240g = 4,800,000g or 4,800kg.

Hope CIC strongly believes that we all have a responsibility to protect the environment for future generations including the communities and projects we conduct. Below are some steps we are already taking:

1) Reducing the amount of waste delivered to landfill - Our food project collects surplus food from various local supermarkets, and we stop in excess of 300kg a week going into landfill. As the number of people we help increases, the more food is prevented from being wasted. Hope CIC is also a member of Fareshare, collecting surplus food and ensuring it reaches our service users, when it would otherwise be destined for landfill. Staff, volunteers and service users are encouraged to reduce food waste, recycle or reuse materials, and upcycle.

2) Renewable energy - Our food project in Cambourne operates from a community building that uses solar panels that help to power our fridges and freezers in the shop, and accommodates our community hub. With the help of grant funding, we can migrate to an electric vehicle to deliver the mobile food hubs, reducing our carbon footprint even further. We can also use the electric vehicle to deliver emergency food parcels, and collecting supplies for our services.

Positive impact quotes from our service users

Interviews from service users from BBC News article: Mobile food hub supporting Cambridgeshire villages - BBC News

Denis Dyer, 76, was among those who attended Duxford Community Centre for the first food hub delivery. He agreed there was a clear need, saying: "Trying to make ends meet is getting harder and harder.”

Rita Smith, 77, said she was thrilled at the project. She said: "I can't believe it's happening. We can pay a little bit and get food for a cut price - brilliant."


This project offers rewards in return for your donation. Please select a reward below.

£1,000 or more

0 of 20 claimed

£1000 Reward for advertising on van

Pledges of £1000 will be rewarded with the company or individuals business logo printed on the new van as a thank you to the considerable donation.

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