An Update from Sam Davies: 23 May 2020

Sam Davies updates local residents on the “Happy To Help” scheme, the Daily News email, the Saturday morning Community Food Hub, and much more.

Frequently asked questions

What is the Queen Edith’s Community Food Hub and who runs it?
The Food Hub is an extension of the Queen Edith’s Happy to Help collaboration between the Queen Edith’s Community Forum, the parish churches of St John the Evangelist (Hills Road) and St James’s (Wulfstan Way) and volunteers from across the neighbourhood. We wanted to create a simple and straightforward way of helping local people who are having difficulty accessing food. It runs from 10:30am to 12:30pm every Saturday morning at St James’s Church on Wulfstan Way where we provide a mix of fresh and frozen food plus non-perishable items.

How is it different to a food bank?
Some food bank sites are still running in the city but there are none very close to Queen Edith’s and people still need to be ‘referred’ to them. Our Food Hub, and the others which have been created (for example in Cherry Hinton and Trumpington), sit alongside the food bank network and complement what they do. We were awarded a grant of £1k by Cambridge Food Bank to cover our initial costs.

Who can attend and how does it work?
Literally anyone who feels they could benefit from free food, be that for financial or other reasons, is welcome to come. As you can see from these photos of the interior of the church*, produce is laid out so people can select what they want and one of the volunteers will put it in their shopping bag. The whole operation is very friendly and relaxed but we ensure social distancing and safe food handling are carefully observed. And if people are unable to visit in person, they can call the Happy to Help phone line on 01223 641012 and we can organise a delivery to the door.

Where does the food come from?
The Queen Edith’s Community Food Hub, together with other similar hubs round the city, is fortunate to receive a share of the weekly Cambridge Sustainable Food delivery from the national FareShare scheme – this is produce passed on by supermarkets and other food businesses which is approaching its Best Before date. In addition, we have received deliveries of surplus goods from local businesses including Winfield Supermarket on Wulfstan Way, Tesco at the Leisure Park and Waitrose at Trumpington.

Are you buying in food too?
Yes; the problem is that all of the donating sources are unpredictable in terms of quantity and contents – one week we get a crate of beetroot, the next it’s a fridge of spinach! We think it’s important that we can guarantee a supply of staple items and that’s why we’ve been asking for your support, either directly in the form of food donations or through financial donations which will enable us to buy in goods at wholesale rates. One key relationship is with local business Cambridge Fruit Company who are kindly providing us fresh fruit and veg each week.

What about food donations?
Gratefully received! We are open to receive food donations at St James’s on Wednesdays 2pm-4pm and Fridays 3pm-5pm. More here.

How are you telling people about it?
We’ve asked the City Council, local schools and GP practices to let people know; we’ve put up posters around the neighbourhood; we’ve promoted it on the Queen Edith’s Daily News email, on Facebook, on Twitter …but we know there is still more to do to spread the word. To that end, we’re hoping to be delivering a new edition of the Queen Edith’s magazine in the next couple of weeks, to make sure that all 6000 households in the area are familiar with what’s available. We’d also be grateful if you can use your networks (online or word of mouth) to let people know.

What is the Happy to Help phone line?
We’ve set up a free telephone line where anyone who needs help with basic tasks such as getting shopping done, prescriptions collected, dogs walked, etc can register a request and be matched with a local volunteer who is ‘happy to help’. As well as tasks, we can use the helpline as a way of putting people in touch if they just want to connect for a chat with someone else in the local area to relieve the boredom of lockdown.

How does it work?
Anyone can call and leave a message 01223 641012 summarising what they want. One of our friendly call handlers – Nicki, Fiona, Wendy, Claire and Sean – will call back or directly arrange for one of our 200 volunteers to call. We track jobs are finished and ensure that everything is done safely.

Who can call it?
Anyone living in Queen Edith’s, or calling on behalf of someone living in Queen Edith’s, ie south of Cherry Hinton Road, east of the railway and west of the Robin Hood junction. If we get calls relating to neighbouring areas, we will pass them on to our equivalent groups in the ‘Coleridge’ area, Trumpington or Cherry Hinton.

What’s the idea behind asking for children’s clothing?
With charity shops not open, we’re now asking for donations of children’s clothing (birth to 12 years) which we will also make available at the food hub. Please put clean clothes into bags or boxes labelled by sex and by age. You can then drop these off at St James’s on Wednesdays between 2pm and 4pm or Fridays between 3pm and 5pm. If you can’t drop them off, please call the Happy to Help line and we may be able to collect from you.

How can I find out more or to offer to help?
We regularly update this Queen Edith’s Community Forum website with all the important information, plus you can sign up here as a volunteer or to receive our daily email. You can get in touch with us by emailing or via our Facebook page.

* Thanks to photographer Cat Goryn