This week and 4 months in to the Pandemic we hit a mile stone.
It really has not been easy over this time and we have faced massive hurdles during this time that have included no local funding, vehicle breakdowns, staff and volunteer shortages, and enough supply to keep up with demand.
The upside of all that very hard work can be seen here and there is so many more we could mention like Re-act, the volunteer ex vets from Red Cross in Exeter who actually built a distribution center overnight to make it easier for the community hubs in Devon and Cornwall get the essential supplies to where they are needed. Without people like these, without the Community Groups in Cornwall who we work with and without the youth of Bodmin who have given the most in a real time of need, then very little would have happened and for this, we thank every last one of you.
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.
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.
A lot of the work we do is simply bringing people together for greater good and this week has seen us do just that.
We work with many and varied companies and organisations across Cornwall and the UK, in various forms that can be seen in partnerships, in support or simply through social interactions.
We managed to bring 3 groups together this week that we hope will be the start of something good and that will highlight causes and the actions being taken by those involved.
It started with a Coffee with the team at Brandon Trust who provide supported living throughout the SW and that they highlighted the need for some of their residents to be involved in Environmental Projects. With us being quite well connected in Cornwall we were quickly able to reach out and connect them with a few groups and soon after we had arranged a beach clean that will take place later this month. The `Turn the Tide` team were more than welcome to have Brandon Trust onboard to help with their planned events and that it will help highlight the need to look at the waste we are producing and where it often ends up.
Our part in this was not just limited to helping to make this happen but to also provide them with equipment so they could help out and use in the future for other planned events.
We are working with Cormac on waste reduction and this enabled us to re purpose Hi- Vis products from Cormac end of use materials that we could give to Brandon Trust team members to carry out their duties on helping to clean up the environment in ways that will benefit the local community and visitors alike.
This week has been a good week as most weeks are but this week, this simple act we made and the results from joining people up has really raised a smile.
If you have a project that would suit Brandon Trust residents, If you have textile waste, If you want to join in with environmental projects then why not give us a shout and see if we can connect you with others.
This last 2 weeks we have been a massive turning point and a time that have may made a lasting sustainable impact on our future.
It’s the point we have been tirelessly working towards as a team for the last year or more with our aim to be less reliant on funding and more self reliant on producing our own income.
The turning point has come through investment and development into staff and equipment to make this happen and through working with partners to understand their needs to find a place for us to fill that gap that makes it win/ win for everyone involved.
Being a CIC we take our work very seriously as when we get it right then the community in which we are well placed can gain great benefit from this. We strive to pay a living wage, we are open to all and willing to train at our expense and we invest in people and the equipment to get it right when we can. Often being heavily reliant on funding we have hurdles to get over in doing this and face massive challenges in doing so but with a shared desire to make this happen, a fantastic team that shares vision we may have just cracked it this last few weeks.
This week we started work on an order that should keep us busy for the next few years, It has produced 6 new jobs and jobs that pay the living wage in an area of deprivation that is so in need of this to happen. The people employed range between 17 and 60 and all come with great attitudes, the desire to learn and understanding of what we aim to achieve. Some we have worked with in the past, students that have now graduated, semi retired people who have taken part in our workshops previously and all with various skills to bring in to share.
This is only the start though and we think that the future will bring in double the work force again on other products that are in development that we think will happen off site and with partners we have identified that share the same values and desires.
Being a social enterprise is very rewarding but we do run like a normal business at times as we understand we have to be competitive in today`s world. Our business side of things needs to be run seriously and this is often a challenge as is all business in today`s uncertain world. Our eye is always firmly fixed on our community, how they can benefit from our actions and most often the environment is better for our work in waste reduction and actions that benefit the climate.
For us, we think that the future is looking very positive and this is largely down to our drive to be less dependent on funding and to be more sustainable in what we do. Its taken a while because of restrictions, silly things like gaining degrees at university and finding the right team that shares vision but it finally feels like its happened and that 2020 is our year of growth and real development.
We've all heard about the climate emergency. If we're going to do something about it, we all have to do our bit to reduce consumption, reduce waste, cut carbon emissions and be nice to our planet. But we're not all eco-warriors. Do we really want to live in a tent and revert to the good old dark ages? What can the rest of us actually do, here in the 21st century?
We have done some radical thinking. Why buy things you'll hardly ever use? You buy it, use it once, put it in the shed, and ten years later, when it's rusted up and useless, get rid of it. We can't go on like that. So we buy it, and lend it to you and lots of other people. It won't last for ever but at least it will get as much use as it can take before it needs to be disposed of. We charge you an annual membership fee and a small fee for each item we loan you. It will work out cheaper for you and save you getting all cluttered up. They call it a circular economy. It's run on a not-for-profit basis for the whole community by a group with a proper constitution.
It's for the whole community. It's not about how much money you've got. It's about saving carbon emissions, saving landfill, cutting waste, and reducing that pile of stuff filling up your shed.
Our start-up costs and first-year funding have been granted by our local Treverbyn Parish Council. We thank them for their enthusiasm and generosity, doing their own radical thinking and having the courage to back something new.
Your Community Needs You. We are looking for all sorts of help from all sorts of people. The more skills we can borrow, the more we can do for and with the community. The more things we have, the more we can lend out. The more money we can raise for ourselves, the less we need to beg from other organisations, and the more we can launch other ventures, such as repair workshops, swish events, fabric & textile workshops, upcycling groups or, well, other pieces of radical thinking. The more we can prove our bit of radical thinking actually works, the more we can encourage other people to set up similar things!
If you want to suggest something you'd like to borrow from us, please use the contact form below. We value your input!
If you are interested in volunteering in any category, please let us know with the contact form below and we'll discuss things with you. If you think you might have an item we need for our library, please let us know and we'll get in touch to find out more. If you run a local business who would like to sponsor us or donate items to loan, we'd love to talk to you. We'd also love to talk to any local business who can find us food for our community fridge project.
If you'd like to donate money, keep that thought while we get our brand new bank account up and running! We'll soon have a donations section on this web site, or our "proper" web site which will follow this one into the same web-space. We are a properly constituted group run on a not-for-profit basis so you can be sure your money will go to the good of the whole community.
To give you some sort of idea of the things we are looking for, here is our wish-list:
Day-to-Day: Sim-Free Mobile, Simple Lap-Top.
D.I.Y & Car.: Drill/Driver, Staple gun, Jigsaw, Reciprocating Saw, Palm Sander, Glue Gun, Mastic Gun, Small Electric Cement Mixer, Work Light, Dehumidifier, Step Ladder, Ladders, Drain Rods, Socket Set, Car Jack, Sat. Nav, Battery Charger.
Garden: Wheel Barrow, Mower, Strimmer, Hedge Cutter, Leaf Blower / Vac, Gazebo, Patio Chairs, Patio Table, Branch Lopper.
Cleaning: Wet/ Dry Cleaner, Carpet Cleaner, Pressure Washer, Steam Cleaner, Floor Polisher.
Home: Sewing Machine, Cake Tins (especially shaped ones).
Leisure & Activities: Tents, Camping Gear, Wetsuits, Metal Detector, Fishing Gear, Kayak, Scooter, Bicycle, BBQ, Camping Stove, Bunting, Marquee, Flags, Tables, Chairs.
I guess this started at least 4 years ago and discoveries over time has lead to us creating a social franchise model for TeX . I guess the reasons of doing this come from a mixture of frustration, demand, desire added to the actual need to address climate issues and the situation of our communities. This discovery has led us to places like Portugal and Italy to seek out regional Co-ops and how they work together to make change. To festivals like Stir to Action promoted as the play ground for the new economy and to the discoveries in our communities and of the barriers, the frustration of inactivity to address the things the care about and what matters.
Our Social Franchises early roots stem from 6 equal partners that are travelling a very similar path and alongside very similar problems. Our model goes some way to help both and smooth out some of the shared problems.
Its nothing new what we are trying to do in some way but it is all very new to us. You probably know other Social Franchises without actually realise you know. Think Foodbank- Think social franchise as an example.
For us it is different though, a different causes a different structure and a different way of doing things. Ours comes from a combination of deep rooted grass root orgs who over time have listened to the communities they serve and want to act in their best interest. They want to break down the barriers to inclusion while come away from the funding that is often restrictive, hard to reach and very competitive. Our Social Franchise will help tackle this problem through the creation micro industries working on circular economy activities that will support the ongoing community engagement events and activities.
The idea of giving away what we built up over the last few years as so we can keep it is again nothing new. Others have done it, are still doing it and we hope it may continue with our inclusion. Our aim is to put in place no barriers that will exclude anyone from following our model and taking what we have built and therefore there will be no costs, take what you need, as you need and when you need. We simply want to encourage others to take actions, follow or combined tried and tested ways of community actions and ways that will address the climate emergency.
For us, there is no time to sit and talk some more about what we can do. For us, it’s time to take action. For us, we know we are stronger together, our reach is further and our voices louder and for us, to sit back and do nothing is not an option.
We have all worked together in support of each other over the years and it just seemed natural for us to take the next steps. We dig what we do and the ones we work with and its a lived experience and a way of life. Each franchise brings something different to the table and this is what makes us work well. We have town councillors, community leaders, anarchists and Christians all working side by side in harmony. Change makers in action.
Over the next few weeks we will feature the individual early franchisees and also create ways where others can join in, find out more and maybe create your own where you are. Our aim is to create a social franchise Blueprint / Manual that we give away to help others take their next steps either along our path or to help them create their own. If you have ideas that may help then please contact us and let us know. Do you run a social franchise? Tell us about it !! Want to run one ??? Tell us about it !!!
Our blog is designed to keep you up to date on Cultivate Cornwall news and all the different projects we are working on.