It has been a rather strange few months and I'm sure you have noticed that as much of us, just coping with such an unprecedented circumstances has been challenging in its own right and like so many we have felt scared, motivated, anxious, positive, confused, progressive, and everything in between. I am sure that many of you have also found that how you feel can vary hugely day by day or even minute by minute. Through all this though there has been one feeling that has remained constant, and that being having a responsibility, to you the community to ensure we use our resources, expertise and skills are used as effectively as possible to support you through the pandemic.
Today marks two months since the closure of our two Bodmin shops so we have taken some time to reflect on what has changed and to provide an update on what has been happening behind the scenes and what is next.
Sewing is something that as I'm sure most know comes naturally to us and as you might expect we have been able to use our skills and textiles stocks to support the collective effort of ensuring key workers have access to personal protective equipment, this has included hundreds of wash bags donated to the hospitals and other key healthcare workers, while several thousand masks and face covers have been made and donated. We are now working with the council and others to look at scaling the production of masks to help meet some of the local need. However, this has been the easy bit quickly being able to adapt to address this need in line with our existing skills and capabilities.
The challenge really came as we looked to move beyond textiles, we started receiving lots of requests from people who needed food. With many on reduced pay or even being made redundant, the demand for food has increased massively beyond what existing providers like the food bank can provide. The challenge we faced was how do you feed up to 200 people a week with no budget. Fundraising? Yes an option, but we would have struggled to raise the tens of thousands of pounds this would have required.
A solution has now been found and in fact it perfectly aligns with the direction we were previously going, so now we are pleased to say that we have expanded beyond our work with textile surplus and have now now also started to distribute food to those in need during this crisis. Over the last few months we have built up to helping 60 + people a week with essential items and food and now after sourcing and being supported by a national charity we are now in a position to expand on this to help more. Our town suffered before this crisis from deprivation and even more so now. The long term impact is not fully understood at the moment but we hope that we are in a place now that can help serve and assist the community as we go through it together.
This has been made possible by Fareshare who we had been having conversations with already for over a year, together we have been able to respond to the calls for help from the community. Now with their help we can secure enough food each week for 100-150 people. It has not been easy, one of the shops has been freed up to sort and distribute the food from and thanks to the willingness of Fareshare we have been able to fast track what we had initially planned to launch in 12 months.
The main support to make this happen has come from FareShare and Fareshare Go but also Tesco, Asda, Lush, Bugle Library of things, and many more. Combined we now have the potential of distributing as much as a tonne of food each week. The food will be distributed each week, delivered to the door of those in need each week to Bodmin and Camelford while we have also been able to secure enough food that working with Bugle Library of things to provide food delivery across Bugle.
Food will also be distributed to other community projects across Cornwall, many of which have struggled to keep up with the demand and need to provide sources of food to the most vulnerable during the pandemic. True to form there will be no cost incurred to anyone.
Monday was a big day for us, it marked our first collection from Fareshare, yesterday the food was sorted and from today it is now be distributed over the remainder of the week along with the other food collected from businesses across Cornwall. As some of you will know, over recent weeks we have been providing food for between 50 and 80 people, but after this latest development we will be able to double the number fed each week.
We will not be opening the shops to the public during the near future while we coordinate our Coronavirus response so we can priorities the safety of all our volunteers who are collecting, sorting and distributing food. One thing that has stood out from our volunteers though is their age, all but one under 30. It has been great to see those that are usually least at risk come forward to help those most in need. Together they have brought energy, passion and commitment, setting a great example to their peers and giving us hope for the future, when their generation is in the lead, great things will happen.
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