Hartlepool project feeds thousands
The Big League sprang into action when the pandemic struck.
Ian Cawley, who manages the Hartlepool CIC, said: “I had a feeling Covid-19 was going to be massive. So we closed the centre a week early and decided we’d get ready to support the community with some food.
“In the first week we did 50 parcels and had 200 volunteers on board through our Poolie Time exchange project. By week eight we were up to 13,000 meals a week and all the local businesses were getting involved. A funeral director even lent us a car so we had enough vehicles to collect all the shopping we needed.
“It was one massive community effort.”
Because the area already has a high level of need, Ian and the volunteers were determined to help. To date, the project has fed thousands of local families.
Ian and his team worked with community centres, local churches, the council and businesses who wanted to help. As momentum grew, so did everyone’s commitment to helping.
The group has pledged to help those still in need of food for the next 12 months – with around 350 meals each week.
As a result, a much bigger project has emerged from the support that came to them because of the pandemic.
Support for volunteers
Ian said: “We want to harness all this volunteer power so we’ve taken over a much bigger premises on the high street and we are turning it into 28 business units. Our volunteers give their time and we give them what they need to find work – a CV, work experience, suit hire and references. As businesses get started again, they can offer work experience and opportunities to our volunteers.”
Hartlepool project rallies community
A grant of £4,000 from Anglian Water’s Positive Difference fund, managed by County Durham Community Foundation, will be used to support the 80 volunteers currently involved with the CIC. Volunteers helping with food deliveries and setting up the new premises will be helped with expenses and training for their own future.
Ian added: “We were a nice project that helped local people, but this has changed everything. We want to take it up a level and be part of the answer to the problem.
“We’ve committed to keep on delivering food parcels, but we also want to find out why people need them and help them with those problems.”