Charity opens 'community fridge' in Windsor to help those in need

Georgina Bishop

Charity opens 'community fridge' in Windsor to help those in need

A community fridge for people struggling to feed themselves and their families has opened in Windsor.

Driven Forward launched the community fridge at the charity’s base in Alexandra Gardens car park on Monday.

Founder of the charity, Tiia Stephens, got the project off the ground with the help of environmental charity Hubbub UK.

Hubbub set up the world’s first Community Fridge Network to provide free advice and support to Community Fridge organisers.

The fridge at Driven Forward’s Community Wellbeing Hub will serve the people living in the Royal Borough who are struggling to feed themselves and their families.

It will be filled with quality food that would otherwise be wasted, from Tesco, Waitrose, and Marks and Spencer, and open every day, except Thursday, from noon to 2pm.

Driven Forward was set up by Tiia in 2018 while she worked full time as a Royal Borough community warden in Windsor.

It was established to help adults who are socially excluded, isolated, lonely and vulnerable, by taking them on day trips, outings and social activities.

After five years as a community warden Tiia gave up her job at the start of the coronavirus pandemic to concentrate on the charity.

She was set to launch the Driven Forward Community Wellbeing Hub, a 30ft trailer in Alexander Gardens car park, on April 6.

It was intended to help people accessing the Windsor Homeless Project – ‘give them access to online learning, help them with CVs, get them involved with cookery lessons, arts and crafts’.

However, when COVID-19 struck, Driven Forward quickly adapted and the hub was utilised to help all those in need.

The charity fed key workers, looked after the homeless by providing hot meals and food provisions, supported Radian housing tenants, and delivered food to the elderly.

Tiia said: “Initially it was going to be for the people accessing the homeless project, but I think because of COVID, it's more of a need I think for the community,” she said.

“Think of the people who have lost their jobs, people have been furloughed, people have got to look at new ways, and find any jobs going.”

She added: “I thought this is a real, big, big, big issue and it’s going to get worse, so I wanted to set up a community fridge.”

When COVID restrictions ease Tiia hopes to operate the community hub, as it was originally intended, around the opening hours of the community fridge. Those accessing the fridge need to observe social distancing, with only one person entering the hub. Masks need to be worn and antibacterial gel provided must be used on entering.

To volunteer with Driven Forward email or call 07551 081155.

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