Who we are
SocialBox began as a COVID response project that had a huge impact on our local community - and grew a community of its own.
What We Do
We deliver grocery boxes and Sussex produce, partnering with ethical local suppliers, farmers and growers: particularly those who are struggling in the wake of COVID-19.
Our mission is to provide affordable access to local, fresh, healthy food for every member of our community. We want to demonstrate, through our impact, how buying food locally can enrich our community and strengthen social connections.
We've donated 5% of every purchase to our campaign for free groceries for NHS staff. So far we've given out over 150 SocialBoxes to frontline NHS workers. As we grow in the COVID aftermath we will work with food recycling projects such as FareShare, and with individuals to ensure that our free food always gets to those who need it most.
We never anticipated a lasting future for SocialBox beyond that first few frantic weeks, but support from customers and social sector allies have shown us that we have a vital contribution to make and a natural, longer-term role to fill in providing sustainable food to our community's most overlooked groups.
Who We Help
We'll focus on the people most affected by the legacy of COVID, now and in the future.
Many extremely vulnerable people remain shielded and still need support to access healthy food. To these people, getting their SocialBox each week has been an opportunity to feel connected and supported by the community around them. We stop and chat when we deliver, building a sense of inclusive welfare and wellbeing along our routes.
We need to be the missing link for the people in our community most at risk of becoming forgotten and marginalised: with DEFRA's free grocery box scheme for the extremely vulnerable ending, most Food Banks restricted to small catchments, and businesses who were able to contribute to the COVID response now having to focus on making profit to survive, the gaps in provision that we fill - socially led, but commercially fed - is more essential than ever.
We aim to promote community resilience and shared purpose after COVID, and play an active part in demonstrating how changing attitudes to business are changing lives and communities, as the lasting impact becomes clearer.
As we grow, we want to provide both paid employment and volunteering opportunities with accredited training for COVID’s hardest-hit economic groups: 18-25s, hospitality workers whose jobs and businesses were lost during COVID, and marginalised groups such as ex-offenders and those in addiction recovery who are rebuilding their lives in a post-COVID economy with even fewer opportunities than usual.
We believe that everybody has a right to access nutritious, fresh food. We aim to make our groceries affordable for all, without compromising on our ethics: with better funding, we can direct profits to discounts for those claiming Universal Credit or other welfare benefits, keyworkers, and all those who "slip the net" for support and assistance towards a healthier lifestyle.
How We Got Here
We needed to grow - fast - to meet unprecedented, urgent need during the peak of the lockdown. Our lucky skillset and existing connections got us running, noticed and into the marketplace right when we were needed most.
Our successful cause-marketing approach quickly gained us almost 2,000 Facebook supporters and an active page community. Our NHS box fundraiser captured the attention of local press and positive reviews flooded in.
As the lockdown began to ease, we saw the predicted drop in order volume: our sales levelled and stayed steady. We now aim to support a solid customer base from an established operational platform. Vulnerable, rurally isolated and shielding customers will form our backbone, but we want to expand to offer a full range of key products and seasonal choice: our online shop will grow to become a one-stop supermarket alternative, offering add-on products and basket-shopping in addition to a redeveloped range of basics boxes.
How We'll Do It
We want to turn the supermarket standard of grocery delivery on its head - with personalised customer care from order to delivery, and a guarantee of traceability and provenance. We have established partnerships with producers whose ethics match our own, and we work collaboratively to meet mutual goals.
There's an increasing demand for a socially conscious, humanising alternative to supermarket and big-brand online experiences, but no home delivery schemes on a local scale or with our social remit. Many of our allies in ethical shopfront retail lack the physical assets or capital to build a cost-effective structure for home delivery.
That's where SocialBox can help. We were fortunate to have our start-up working space and fleet going to waste due to the hospitality sector lockdown, but we now need to put down roots. We're ready to partner with social retail and wholesale enterprises alike: we've had nothing but positive responses from social allies so far.
We want to be what the changing times need from us: with a huge range of options for the future, SocialBox has the freedom to adapt rapidly in an unpredictable market, growing alongside the community it serves.
We've already got the basics right: the right people, access to the right premises, the supply chain, the happy customer base and the good reputation in our field to grow SocialBox from solid roots to a firm future with wide social benefit.
Why Are We Crowdfunding?
We need to stay afloat and build for the future in the wake of the economic and social disaster that brought us to life.
We need funding and investment to take us through the turbulent aftermath of COVID and into a sustainable future. We need to know that we can afford:
- A small space of our own (the perfect unit, adjacent to our COVID premises, will meet our every need at minimal cost - it just needs some work!);
- A simple, ultra-low emissions delivery fleet that we maintain and manage ourselves (one electric van and one electric moped will be plenty to begin with);
- A salary to secure one FTE post at Living Wage for our first year to keep our people able to run the project and manage the volunteers: we'll progress to employ more as we grow and trade;
- The secure capital to buy our produce and packaging in bulk, and offer security to our suppliers so that they can plan for their futures knowing that we're there to bring partnership and trade.
It's time to establish a training package for volunteers, so that we can offer them real employment chances in return for their skills and time.
Many of the volunteers who've been with us since Day One are either returning from furlough, or needing to seek paid work after losing their livelihoods to COVID. We'd like to start offering something tangible to our tireless core team, and to those who replace them: they're giving everything they can to help SocialBox help our local community.
Once we've met the basic post-COVID needs of our project, we can channel our passion for real food and social change towards our producers and customers, and be at the forefront of those making the big difference our local food industry needs right now to provide for itself and its community.
We're all in SocialBox together, and all about the good food - for good.