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Donate to help Dundee West End Community Fridge

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Hello! We are Transition Dundee - the team behind Dundee West End Community Fridge. We are new but not new, with earlier versions of our projects having been started by a local church. We are a community-led social enterprise with a small staff team and a mighty team of volunteers, that aims to make Dundee a more sustainable, healthier and happier place to live through various climate focussed projects. Many people are aware of the threats that climate change poses - but we are here to show there is hope, there are lots of things we can do to tackle it together and to make sure nobody is left behind in the transition to a more sustainable future, for people and planet. See if you'd like to find out more about what we do and how to get involved!

One of the very first Community Fridges in Scotland, we set it up in 2019 to help tackle the big issue of food waste. It is simply a place where surplus food is collected from supermarkets and other local food businesses, to be redistributed to the community. When food rots it creates methane, which has 80 times the warming effect of CO2, so is a huge contributor to the climate emergency. On top of this - many people in our city are living with financial insecurity, so food was being wasted and yet there were many hungry people. We knew we had to do something and a Community Fridge seemed like the perfect idea.

What can we say, it was a huge success from day one! Local businesses were very keen to donate their surplus food, thousands of locals were keen to visit and find out what it was all about and as we found out very quickly, there are many more benefits than just saving food from going to waste. Because the Community Fridge model focuses on the environmental impact of food waste and is open to absolutely everyone, it provides a much more dignified source of food for those who need it most, as opposed to the traditional method of food banks. It has more benefits than we will ever know - it saves surplus food, saves people money, brings our community together, raises awareness of the climate emergency, and so much more.

The project is largely led and run by the community - our amazing team of volunteers has helped us save over 250 tonnes of food so far. - all redistributed to our community and around Dundee, for free. This is the same weight as 1/4 million bags of sugar, equivalent to an incredible 712,500 meals and saves the same greenhouse gas emissions as planting and growing 12,840 trees for ten years. In the last 12 months alone we've had over 25,000 visitors and many more benefitting from that food at home. We can't quite believe these figures ourselves, what an incredible impact our community has helped us to achieve! On top of this, we have inspired and helped many other community fridges and other food projects to get set up around the country.

But it hasn't always been easy. When Covid came along we had to completely change how it worked and recruit a much larger team of volunteers to ensure it could stay open, but safe and accessible for our community. In a time when nothing else was open, many people came down to visit us just so they could talk to someone that day. Many others had lost jobs, hadn't experienced food insecurity before and had heard that we were open to anyone so they felt able to visit. We gave more than a few community members a smile, some food and made them feel like they were doing their little bit for the planet. Now with the cost-of-living crisis, we are seeing many more people rely on our project, in fact almost double the number from one year ago. We currently have around 140-150 visitors per day, five days a week, so are feeling the pressure on our services more than ever before.

Having been well funded in our initial two years but knowing that was coming to an end, we decided to move all of our projects (also The Wardrobe) out of the church and into a new social enterprise, an organisation in our own right - Transition Dundee (part of the global Transition Towns movement ). This would help us to generate some income ourselves and become less reliant on grant funding, to secure our projects for the longer term. We planned to apply for grant funding for a little longer while we continue to develop our income generation, and we were very lucky last year. All major grant funders are heavily oversubscribed at the moment, as a result of years of funding cuts and now with the cost-of-living crisis - and so far we haven't been able to attract grant funding for this April onwards, despite trying many different avenues.

We are trialling a few new measures, including introducing a Pay As You Feel donation system at the Fridge itself. We are also approaching local businesses with a sponsorship package. We also have other funding applications in! But we are running out of time to wait for those decisions and have decided to also do a Crowdfunder since our current funding is coming to an end very soon. Many people don't realise the cost (and literal blood, sweat and tears!) that goes into what looks like a simple project. We have a full-time Community Fridge Coordinator to pay, rent, utilities, insurance, admin costs, maintenance and training - it costs just over £30,000/year to have it open 5 days a week, even with our team of wonderful volunteers! For the first two years, we were open 7 days a week but it wasn't sustainable for our hard-working small team.

We urgently need to raise enough to keep the project open and not let all of our communities efforts go to waste. We've done incredible things with that little building and we hope to continue building on that success and increasing the benefits for the people of Dundee. One such example is our proposed new 'Gleaning project', which aims to bring a new source of surplus food into the city to help meet the ever increasing demand - click here for more information on that and to vote for us :)

Please, don't be put off by the large target and consider donating if you can, every little really will help. We will continue trying other avenues and will do everything we can to keep it going - our planet and our people need projects like this.

Thank you so much for reading - please share with anyone else you think might be interested in our story.

Lynsey, Joyce, Taylor and the whole Transition Dundee team X


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Lynsey Penny

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