The boss of a social enterprise cafe has told how the charity will help roll out a new food delivery service to help vulnerable people during the coronavirus outbreak.
Social Bite joined forces with three other charities, the Evening Express and Original 106 this week to help residents facing difficulties during the crisis.
The charities, including Aberdeen Cyrenians, CFINE and Aberdeen Foyer, are working together to make sure no one is left struggling to buy food and essential household items.
They have formed a partnership called AC2U to help individuals and families who cannot leave their homes to access essential goods.
Social Bite, which already supports the vulnerable and homeless across the country, announced last week it would re-deploy its teams to produce and deliver food and supplies to those who need them most for the duration of this outbreak.
It comes after the organisation was forced to close its chain of cafes in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen as a result of the pandemic.
But it will continue to provide support to the most vulnerable through a new delivery scheme for individuals and families.
Social Bite co-founder Josh Littlejohn said: “When our cafes closed last week we were trying to decide how we would respond to the outbreak.
“We are aware that there are homeless people in need every day and they would probably be the hardest hit by coronavirus with many other homeless services closing down, causing a big increase in food poverty.
“We basically decided to repurpose the organisation for the next three months and turn it into a food delivery service focused on homeless people and other vulnerable groups who maybe would’ve been relying on free school meals or who may have been made redundant.
“We’ve established a network of around 50 different charities all over Scotland and our kitchen is producing emergency food packs, almost like packed lunches, with a sandwich and a piece of fruit, a packet of crisps and a drink.
“Around 3,500 packs are going out every day, and the demand is growing daily. The funds raised through the Covid-19 appeal will allow Social Bite and our partners, CFINE, Aberdeen Foyer and Cyrenians, to collaborate as widely as possible to help meet the demand.
“As this crisis gets deeper and deeper, there are going to be more and more people who are in a desperate situation.”
The charities are appealing for non-perishable food as well as cleaning products, hygiene products and nappies.
They can be handed in at Sainsbury’s at Berryden, Asda at Middleton Park and the Tesco stores at Wellington Road and in Westhill.
Josh added: “The main message is that for most of us, this is a difficult situation and everybody is anxious about their own health, but for the majority of us we can self-isolate in our houses and we can stock up our cupboards and stock up our fridges.
“But for those in a homeless situation it’s really difficult to even self-isolate so you can imagine the level of anxiety people in that situation might have, let alone having to access food.
“One of the few good things about the outbreak is the general sense of community spirit that is building, and it is a really important time for people from all walks of life to get together and help out the most vulnerable people.”
Up to half-a-million pounds in funding is being made available by the Scottish Government to allow Social Bite to produce and distribute 3,000 food and essentials packs, five days a week.
With additional support from the public, the group hopes to be able to provide this service seven days a week, for the next three months.
Social Bite is SALSA (Safe and Local Supplier Approval) approved and works to high standards of hygiene. It also takes extra care to understand where all of its ingredients have come from, who has handled them, and where they were sold.
How to donate
- Online cash donations – https://app.donorfy.com/donate/3YSBIBZ3Z8/Coronavirusappeal
- Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/donate/638083983420648/
- Phone – text ‘AC2U’ to 70085 to donate £5 Anyone able to supply food should email: ICanHelp@AC2U.org
- For the Amazon wishlist go to: http://amzn.eu/8sbJELp – please email ICanHelp@ac2u.org to notify when a purchase is made and advise of delivery estimation so staff are available to accept donations
- Shopping deliveries can be sent to 62 Summer Street, Aberdeen, AB10 1SD
To apply for assistance
Applications can be made through www.AC2U.org or 0300 303 0903 (option 8)