Project tackles waste and offers support with cost of living
published on 16 Jun 2022
An initiative to tackle landfill waste and support people struggling with their bills is underway at Castleford Corps.
Waste Watchers is a ‘social supermarket’ where people can pay a £1 to fill a bag full of fresh food donated by supermarkets that would otherwise have been thrown out.
Held on a Friday afternoon, the project is also a way of bringing people together as they can stay on for a cup of coffee, slice of cake and a chat. Recently, people were invited to a free music concert held at the Booth Street community centre.
One person who has been benefitting is Lyndsey, 37, who attends each Friday with her sister. Unable to work, Lyndsey is reliant on disability benefits to support herself and her 18-year-old daughter who is training to be a hairdresser, which means she often struggles with money particularly as the cost of living increases. It not only helps her save money on food bills but is a chance to socialise with people in a non-judgemental environment.
Lyndsey said: “It’s really good quality fresh food. There is often something different to try, food that I probably would not pick up in a supermarket. There’s fresh meat like chicken, which is expensive to buy, and I once got a belly pork, which I was able to make last for a few meals.
“I do not like to see waste and I know that this food would be thrown away if we didn’t take it. It’s helping all of our family. I would be in a worse place without it.”
One of the benefits for Lyndsey is that it also gets her out of the house and she can meet people for a coffee and a chat.
She continued: “It’s always friendly. I suffer with depression so it’s nice to come out and meet new people and feel like I’m not being judged. You do not find many people you can trust but I know I can trust the people at The Salvation Army and if I feel upset, I know I could turn to them.”
The produce differs each week depending on what is donated, but there is often a good mix of fruit and vegetables and fresh meat, as well as sweet treats. People can expect to take a home a bag of food worth between £5 to £15. They usually have about 25 people attending.
Pauline Burlace, Castleford Salvation Army’s Corps Secretary who runs Waste Watchers with Corps Officer Major Joy Beckett and a team of volunteers said: “The main purpose of this is to stop food going to landfill - turning waste to taste. We are working for the land and God’s creation.
“People are welcome to stay for a hot drink and a free cake so it’s a chance for us to chat and find out what is going on with them and if we can support them in other ways. A lot come for the company as well. We want it to be a nice experience and a nice environment, improving not just physical health but mental health.
“If there is food left over, we are able to use to help people on a needs basis particularly with the anxiety over rising food costs. One young mother phoned up and said she didn’t know what to do as she had two children and couldn’t afford to feed them in the school holidays because of the cost of her bills. I was heartbroken for her. I was able to put a parcel together for her from some of the leftovers.”
During a recent Waste Watchers, a free music concert was held in the main hall organised by deputy bandmaster Anthony Thompson, who plays the cornet, and pianist Graziana Presicce.
Anthony, who works as a freelance trumpeter in orchestras, started hosting free concerts online during the pandemic after securing some funding from the Royal Philharmonic Society.
Anthony said: “The Salvation Army is strongly associated with music, it’s how a lot of people come to know about the church and charity through hearing the bands on the high street.
“We wanted to hold these concerts on a Friday when people are coming to visit Waste Watchers or to collect food parcels. They will be encouraged to come and sit and relax and enjoy the music. It’s good for people who might not otherwise be going to a concert especially if finances are tight, as well as for us as players and The Salvation Army.”
The next concert will be held on Friday, July 22.