SWINDON’S first community fridge has opened at Gorse Hill Baptist Church.

The project is being run by volunteers from Boxes of Hope, which was set up to help feed families at the start of the pandemic. It will allow them to provide refrigerated food – something they have been unable to do until now.

Boxes of Hope is working in partnership with Hubbub, which co-ordinates the fridges and helps reduce food waste by bringing in donations from supermarkets and other businesses. 

Volunteer Chris Anthulakis approached Boxes of Hope about the idea of working with Hubbub to get a community fridge. It had a successful launch opening on Friday, with mayor Garry Perkins cutting the ribbon.

Organiser Heather Prictor, who also runs Boxes of Hope, said: “Having a fridge is another step in the right direction to reduce food waste and food poverty in the town. We’re the first in Swindon so we’re really excited to launch the initiative.”

And the scheme is not stopping there. It hopes to introduce a wellbeing café for people with mental health issues and wants to work with the charity Christians Against Poverty to offer a job club with debt management classes.

Councillor Perkins said: “It was certain we had a number of people relying on it so the need is there. It’s a brilliant idea and I had never heard of it before this so it’s spread quite well across the nation.

“It’s a good focal point in the community for people to go to and have access to.”
The community fridge will be open on Monday, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11am until 2pm.

Co-op member Kate Tarabay said: “We’re extremely proud to be in partnership with Hubbub and are absolutely thrilled to be part of this community project that gives back and facilitates food waste.

“Boxes of Hope have been fantastic at providing food for families and without it we wouldn’t be able to put this on display so we’re excited to share the journey with them.” 
Councillor for Gorse Hill and Pinehurst Carol Shelley said: “I know what a difference this makes to families and what they have to go through during the pandemic. They’re really putting action at the heart of what you do.”

“Many families would have struggled without it so it’s important along with the rallying around of support. This food may have gone to waste so thank you for all you’ve done.”

Morrisons community champion Simon Raisey said: “It’s an amazing group of volunteers, we worked on Boxes of Hope weekly. 

“We’re just absolutely delighted to be involved and provide fresh produce three times a week that would have otherwise gone to waste. They’re great as often it’s at short notice to collect the food from us.”