We have repurposed one of our shops on the Bodmin Highstreet to help feed our Cornish communities through the pandemic. It came after being forced to shut our shop during lockdown and wanting to find a way the space could continue to support those most in need.
Each week over two tonnes of food is being sorted into food parcels and then distributed across Bodmin and the surrounding areas. We have also been lucky enough to be able to support other groups with this new project 'The Fare Exchange', giving access to the food, for free, to other community groups feeding their communities during the Pandemic.
Coronavirus has brought new challenges for us all, we are just trying to make life just a little easier for the community during this challenging time. As a small team we wouldn’t have been able to get to this point without the huge amount of support we have received and all the new volunteers that have joined us to make it happen.
It has been refreshing seeing so many young people come forward wanting to help the more vulnerable in our community, the energy and passion they have brought has made it more than just a lifeline for those that receive the food, but also as a team we have been able to support each other, it has been a challenging time for everyone.
This is a fantastic opportunity for our community but it has also helped our volunteers, In lockdown many have needed to find a way to keep themselves occupied, through being involved as part of this team they have been able to overcome some of the personal challenges they have also been facing. We have all loved helping people in this challenging time and for many their involvement has helped them consider how into the future they can become more involved in the community.
The Fare Exchange, in the last month alone has distributed food for almost 2,500 food parcels, each week there is more demand and more people being fed, it seems that this is far from over yet. As well as supporting their our local community in and around Bodmin and Camelford, Cultivate Cornwall have also been able to support other food projects across the county to help them access food to distribute to people who need it in their communities. Each week as much as one tonne of food is being donated to Bugle Library of Things, Lighthouse Community Centre in Liskeard and St Erme.
We spoke to Jo who is managing the distribution of food in Bugle and this is what she had to say; "This has been a lifeline for so many, just in our small village we are now feeding 150 people each week, without the Fare Exchange we would be forced to make choices between who can eat and who goes hungry, The fare Exchange has allowed us to ensure everyone in need is able to get access to food.”
This has only become possible by working with all these amazing different groups and we are delighted we have been able to help them in some way. But this has been more than just a group effort from a few, this would not have happened without the continued support of FareShare Southwest, alongside Tesco, Asda, The Hive, WRAP, DEFRA, The National Lottery Community Fund, Western Power, Groundwork and the Red Cross. Not to mention all the people from across the community who have made donations and given up their time.
Fairshare Southwest have been key to our ability to expand to the thousands of meals each month that we are able to give away, in the last month we have often been donated as much as 5 pallets of food from them. We have been talking to FareShare Southwest for over a year now so we are delighted to now be able to work with them on such a large scale.
The last few weeks have been epic and so much work has been carried out.
This week we have had 2 more volunteers come to lend a hand with packing and delivery of the support we give in the community and again, it's the youth that have really made a massive effort in this situation. 6 people are now sorting everything and all are under 27! ( I don't count myself because they took control and took over the running and I just get to do the running as required)
Last week we supported 168 just around the Bodmin area and already those figures have increased and with the support of FareShare South West we will be able to continue at least until the end of July when we assess the situation and find a way to continue.
We also welcomed The Hive Cornwall this week with their support. The Hive has taken over the production unit at Rick Stiens and produce ready meals that help fight food poverty. We took 550 meals of them this week and that has been sent out to the community with a warm welcome. We are busy making plans to ensure this continues long into the future.
We also collected from FareShare SW -Bristol twice this week to ensure the support is ongoing. That is just over 5 pallets of food and of essential items given by FareShare to the community here. Simply amazing and hard to think that we go through this each week as Saturday our shelves were empty just about.
The support we give is not limited to Bodmin but we are acting as a hub for distribution to St Erme, Liskeard, Bugle and Camelford and support community groups who again help to give the right help to the right people. In total we reach around 600 people a week through this quickly expanding network we have built.
We can't thank our youth volunteers enough for the help they give. Battling through their own problems and giving their own time to help others. The young people involved really are an inspiration. Without them we would find it very hard to do what we do. We also thank those that support us through food donations and the Lottery Community Fund who have supported us through funding that helps cover core costs and enables us to deliver the much needed support.
We have always tried to champion now ideas and community projects and through the pandemic there has been no exception as we move to new ways of working, today is a good day to look back and reflect on how COGS has evolved over recent weeks and to celebrate the first big successes since lockdown. Despite restrictions we have still been able to find ways to support new community projects in starting up. There has been a lot of demand as community projects are facing new challenges, new community needs emerge and ore people are inspired to lead change in their community.
Today we helped launch a community helpline for the Bodmin Community with Earth23 CIC, as part of our work with the COGS project. We are delighted to have been able to see this to fruition and to have been able to support a part of that process. The number is free to call, manned by local volunteers who know your community and is open from 8 am until 9 pm, 7 days a week.
Our blog is designed to keep you up to date on Cultivate Cornwall news and all the different projects we are working on.