How this Chester-le-Street cafe is helping those most in need during the coronavirus pandemic.
REfUSE is working with community groups to deliver meals and food to vulnerable people in the area.
A cafe forced to close during the coronavirus outbreak is now helping struggling County Durham families.
REfUSE is a pay as you feel community cafe in Chester-le-Street that uses tonnes of good food that has been labelled worthless, whether it is due to best-before-dates, damaged packaging, or cancelled orders.
Based on Front Street, the cafe was forced to close due to the coronavirus outbreak.
But the closure has not stopped its founders Mim Skinner and Nikki Dravers from helping the community during the crisis.
Mim and Nikki, along with other volunteers, have continued to collect surplus food and are making vital food parcels to those most in need during the pandemic.
They are also working with Handcrafted, which is making homemade meals to deliver to around 40 homes daily, and The People’s Pantry and the King’s Church Achor project.
Mim said the groups provide lifelines to those in the communities by providing vital food and support.
She added: “At a time when the cafe and workshops are shut and we’ve not able to make physical contact this will be more important than ever – particularly for those with already poor mental health and those suffering job losses and hardship.
“Between us we are delivering at least 55 cooked meals each day, 60 grocery bags each week, and weekly phone calls and contact more than 100 people. We have had more and more people get in touch with us.”
The group delivered to 106 households last week after being contacted by those struggling to access food.
As well as delivering food, an online support group is also being launched to help those in need.
Mim said: “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.”
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A crowdfunder has also been launched to support the cafe during its closure, with kindhearted residents already donating more than £7,000.
Mim said seeing the community spirit shine through in such difficult times is heartwarming.
She added: “I think it shows the heart and spirit of the community, volunteers and customers surrounding the cafe.
“I think, what we have seen over the last few weeks, is people reaching out and connecting with their neighbours, their communities.
“It shows the North East spirit, strength and unity we have in helping each other.”
To donate to the crowdfunder visit here …
The above article by Kali Lindsay first published on chroniclelive.co.uk in Apr, 2020.