In Funding Stories, Reducing isolation & disadvantage

Project: Provide frozen homemade meals and other fresh produce to vulnerable households alongside offering support calls

Grant: £5,000.00

Fund: NET Coronavirus Appeal

Open House Micklefield set up the Hills Café to reduce isolation by providing a point of contact for local residents. It provides volunteering opportunities and training and helps build confidence in these challenging times.

When the pandemic hit, the café had to cease normal operations but swiftly set up a website that offered their local community a platform to order frozen homemade meals and other fresh produce. The scheme was set up on a ‘pay as you feel’ basis, greatly benefiting vulnerable households. They were able to receive their order free of charge if they were unable to pay for it. Residents could place orders online or by phone, and the Café also set up an emergency contact group to call to place orders if their website was offline. A team of trained volunteers, who each held Food Hygiene Certificates, delivered the food the next day. Open House Micklefield did not stop there; they expanded their services and offered phone calls for companionship and prescription collection services.

How did the cafe help?

One of the people who benefitted from the scheme was a previously employed single mum, who was forced to stop working to care for her son when schools closed. Due to the government guidelines, she was cut off from her support network and her benefits had been delayed. As a result, money was incredibly tight. She was a proud person, left isolated and struggling who did not want to ask for help. However, the cafe’s services granted complete anonymity that meant she could discount her food order to free and add some bakery treats for her son, all whilst maintaining her dignity and quality of life.

The Heart of Bucks grant ensured that the Hills Cafe was able to respond quickly to the drastic increase in demand for their services. The cafe offered a safe and secure service to over 700 people.  The grant allowed five volunteers to attend level three food hygiene, allergens, and food packaging courses. Additionally, it also financed a laptop, a printer, a freezer, labels, website hosting, leaflets and much more. The Hills Cafe worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic making their local community a better place to live, work and play.

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