Last year, the Society teamed up with Saffron Lane Neighbourhood Council (SLNC), a charity based in one of the most deprived areas in the East Midlands, to develop a project that would bring huge benefits to vulnerable groups within the local community.
SLNC wanted to use its allotments to up-skill people from the community’s most vulnerable groups, including ex-offenders, the long-term unemployed and people with disabilities, and for the allotments to become more financially self-sufficient.
Without the required knowledge, expertise or contacts, this might have remained just a dream, but our Society saw an opportunity to help – by bringing to market a limited edition jam and chutney produced by SLNC and sold as part of our "A Taste Of..." locally sourced range.
Not only are the proceeds supporting the charity in its work, but learning to make the products helped young people with learning difficulties to gain valuable work experience and life skills.
The project has been such a success that the team is now developing a limited edition jam that’s due in tore in time for the 2014 Wimbledon Tennis Championships.
For the past few years the Society has been inviting youngsters to its honey-bee hives and purpose-built observatories in Peterborough and Suffolk. By the end of this summer, almost 2,000 primary school pupils will have seen life inside a hive from the safety of one of our observatories.
The children are fascinated to find out all about the amazing honey bee and take away mementoes, including free packets of bee-friendly flower seeds so they can help the bees in their own areas. At Aldeby, children also go on a nature-spotting ramble and are able to see all sorts of wildlife from our special viewing hide there. The visits bring to life school curriculum work on mini beasts, adding colour to classroom activities.
It’s all part of the Society’s "Keep The Hive Alive" campaign, which educates young minds about how important the honey bee is to our environment and economy. We have partnered with beekeepers in Peterborough and Bungay to manage our hives and help us deliver this vital message.
After being named one of the UK’s most overweight towns – over 30% of the population is obese, according to the National Obesity Observatory – a lot has been happening in the community to try to change things. Last year our Society helped kick-start "Healthy Tamworth", a new campaign led by Tamworth Health and Wellbeing Board which brought together a number of organisations with the aim of improving the health and wellbeing of residents.
In January this year, our Tamworth food store hosted a health awareness day to coincide with National Obesity Awareness Week. Working with professional organisations including Tamworth Borough Council, the event gave local people the chance to find out what makes a healthy lifestyle and how to access information and services.
On the day, the Society’s promotional vehicle became a "healthy hub", and visitors were encouraged to try healthy smoothies and soups. SnowDome Gym and Waistlines NHS service offered health and fitness advice, as well as weight, body mass index and body fat tests.
The event was a great success, and the Society is now planning more activities to help Tamworth shake off its unhealthy image.
With one million people predicted to be needing help from a food bank by 2016, food poverty is an increasingly serious issue.
The Society has found that more and more food banks are asking for our support, making it important that we have a clear policy on how we work with these partners.
Last year we introduced a food bank policy based on best practice, and since then food bank collection points have been set up in a large number of our stores.
We’ve also been holding in-store focus days to raise awareness of the important role that food banks play and to encourage members and customers to make contributions.
In this way, we can support local food bank charities so that emergency food and support can be provided to individuals and families in crisis.