Since March the team at REfUSE have been busier than ever, doubling our collections to 13 tonnes of food each month and redirecting them towards thousands of recipients. We’ve seen the increase in food supply matched by unprecedented demand amongst communities in County Durham. Increased unemployment, predicted to rise to 7.5% by the year’s end has meant that 1 in 5 children in the UK have gone hungry since the beginning of lockdown. Here are some messages from a few of our recipients letting us know how much the food parcels have helped:
"Thank u so much. Received and absolutely so grateful and amazed at how much. So kind and has helped us so much. Made my mam cry, thank u so much. Helped more than u will ever know thank u. Kids are so happy with their sweets and yoghurts my little boy loves the bananas had 2 already. thank u thank u"
"Being able to eat nutritious meals and not worrying how I will next get food massively took the worry and stress away in helping to feed the kids"
"Its been amazing. I couldn't thank you all enough. Its been a tough time having 3 little ones and receiving these boxes made me feel so grateful and secure that I didn't have to go without. Thank you all so much"
Refuse was able to deliver over 30,000 meals from March to August. Since opening as a Pay As You Feel shop in September we’ve been able to provide food for many more in a way that gives choice and dignity to those that are struggling. In October alone, we provided 1411 bags of shopping to over 3500 adults and children, and delivered 100 crates of food to households around County Durham.
As a small organisation we’ve been able to be flexible to the demands and restraints of Covid19, but after 10 months of providing emergency response to changing circumstances, we’re now planning how we can increase and sustain our provision for the years to come, learning from our the rapid growth in activity and demand this year and growing and strengthening our infrastructure to meet the needs of the future.
Along with food poverty, one of the biggest challenges that we will face is a significant increase in demand for mental health support, and support for those who are newly unemployed. Before lockdown the cafe was able to provide significant support, training and a sense of belonging to those with barriers to employment, poor mental health or long term unemployment. In order to be able to provide this support for more people, along with new projects like teaching cooking skills, we’re proposing to triple the size of the kitchen. The current kitchen is too small for the catering, training and all the busy work we do currently. Increasing its size will allow us to include more volunteers, have space for training and mean that we’ll be able to use our kitchen again even if physical distancing continues to be necessary. The building project will also allow us to increase and improve our cold, frozen and ambient food storage so that we are better able to collect, sort and store the food that comes in and make sure it gets to the right people.
This project will improve the work we currently do, increase our sustainability as an organisation, give us a greater capacity for further social impact, and help us be more robust to future challenges. By donating to this Crowdfunder, you help us to continue to feed, support and equip communities in County Durham long into the future.
Wishing you a very merry Christmas from all of us at REfUSE!