Six-figure donation helping FareShare Lancashire and Cumbria for second year

The Cumberland building society is donating £223,000 to help combat food poverty across Cumbria and parts of Lancashire for the second year running.

Thousands of local people and families struggling with the cost of living are set to benefit.

The team at The Cumberland decided to step in last year with £250,000, their biggest ever charitable donation, after research showed food poverty was one of locals’ highest concerns.

Foodbanks in Cumbrian towns were seeing a 30 per cent increase in demand, with a 75 per cent increase in people using rural food banks.

The Cumberland launched its ‘Kinder Kind of Kitchen’ initiative in June 2023, partnering with the charity FareShare Lancashire and Cumbria, operated by Recycling Lives Charity, which distributed the donation to its network of frontline community food projects across the two counties.

The impact over the last 12 months was:

  • 52 community food projects were supported
  • The equivalent of 577,047 meals were served
  • 242 tonnes of food was saved from waste and redistributed to people in need
  • 4 tonnes of pet food was saved from waste and redistributed
  • 3 tonnes of toiletries and baby food was saved and redistributed
  • Through votes cast at their AGM, the Cumberland also donated 66 fridges to food projects in Cumbria and Lancashire

The initiative will now continue for a second year and will also be extended into southwest Scotland for the first time. A £27,000 donation is being made to FareShare Glasgow and the West of Scotland to bring the amount going towards helping food poverty in the Cumberland’s operating area to £250,000.

Claire Deekes, chief customer officer at The Cumberland said: “It was humbling to visit the food projects, meet volunteers and see first-hand the vital support they provide to local people and how our donation helped them continue or even expand their work.

“This year it is clear once again that many people are struggling to afford the basics, and demand remains high at Cumbrian food projects, so we took the decision to continue the Kinder Kind of Kitchen initiative and extend its reach.

“We are a mutual, owned by our members, and looking out for our communities is really important to us.”

Alasdair Jackson OBE, Chief Executive of Recycling Lives Charity & Social Enterprise, which delivers FareShare Lancashire & Cumbria, said: “The Cumberland’s Kinder Kind of Kitchen initiative has been a really exciting collaboration. The aim was to support charitable groups to get more food out to people in need across Cumbria and parts of Lancashire, and we’re so pleased that this aim has been met and even exceeded over the last 12 months.

“Many of our groups have used the additional funding to expand their provision – delivering extra sessions, serving up much more food, or adding extra provision to their offerings. On top of this, 66 of our groups have received new fridge/freezers, helping them to store and redistribute more food, to prevent goods from going to waste. And many have welcomed volunteers from The Cumberland’s branches to help get food out to people in need. It’s been a real team effort right across the board.

“We know the struggles our members have faced in recent years – demand is ever-increasing. Initiatives like this are helping us all to meet this need and make sure people don’t go hungry.

“The groups we deliver food to are incredible, making such enormous different to their communities. We’re really pleased to have been able to extend the Kinder Kind of Kitchen initiative thanks to the Cumberland’s generosity.”

In addition The Cumberland, in partnership with both FareShare Lancashire and Cumbria, and FareShare Glasgow and the West of Scotland, is to publish ‘The Kinder Cookbook.’ It is full of recipes shared by organisers and volunteers from the food projects they helped across the region, and showcases the power of food bringing people together and the impact that partnerships and kindness can have.

Among the projects which benefitted from last year’s £250,000 donation – and which feature in the cookbook - is St Barnabas food bank in Carlisle.

Diane Johnston volunteers there. She said: “I know what it’s like to struggle to make ends meet at times. I have used the foodbank at St Barnabas in the past. It not only gave me vital supplies for me and my teenage daughter, it helped me realise we were not on our own.

“We don’t just offer food at St Barnabas, we offer support, friendship and care. We are supporting more than 50 families and the donations we receive from FareShare Lancashire and Cumbria are a lifeline.”

Dazzle, a not-for-profit project in Barrow, was able to extend its work thanks to The Cumberland’s Kinder Kind of Kitchen initiative. FareShare Lancashire and Cumbria supplied food enabling Dazzle to help more people.

Damion Burns, a director of Dazzle, said: “We provide people with bread, fruit and vegetables. So many have become dependent on the service. It’s not only those out of work. We get people in work who are struggling to make ends meet.”

The Cumberland’s support through FareShare Lancashire and Cumbria also helped to supply food for Dazzle’s community café offering low-cost meals.

Kendal People’s Café and Food Larder, which use surplus food to provide meals on a pay what you can basis, and for those who can’t pay, was also among those supported. Calderwood House homeless hostel in Egremont also benefitted from the scheme. Resident Neil McLaughlin cooks for fellow residents. He said: “Coming to Calderwood House has, quite literally, saved my life. I have found my family again - and I am starting to believe in myself and look forward to the future with hope.”