John Lakey (Co-Director of Cultivate Cornwall) is a busy man and is widely known around Cornwall for his support and work with community groups and projects. Based in Bodmin, Cultivate Cornwall is a community based initiative; giving support, creating networks and building social enterprises around the region. They have two shops on Bodmin high street where they employ 9 people who may have struggled to find work or have been made redundant. They specialise in textiles with upcycling and repairs being one of their main operations.
Since the pandemic hit, the shops have temporarily closed and they’ve had to diversify from creating 2,500 bee keeping suits among other orders to making dignity packs, masks and distribution of food to community groups around Cornwall. Many of the beneficiaries of their deliveries are referrals from the NHS mental health team and social services, highlighted as “at high risk individuals” who have not been able to leave their homes with the additional difficulty of food drops not reaching some of the more remote parts of Cornwall.
John remembers the early stages of the pandemic as ‘very dark days’ with many vulnerable people needing help. They saw the need of more than 80 community groups needing support and they needed to know where they could get the food from to help.
“The food supplied by FareShare South West has been a serious lifeline for so many of our beneficiaries in Cornwall”
John and his team took it upon themselves to help deliver and distribute as much food as possible to those most in need. They already had a connection with FareShare South West through accessing the FareShare Go services and meeting some of our team at a conference in Exeter, and soon enough they realised more food was needed with increasing numbers of people suffering the effects of the pandemic in the ability to feed themselves and their families.
Therefore when FareShare South West extended services to Devon and Cornwall, Cultivate Cornwall came on board as a full member firstly taking pallets from our Bristol warehouse of ambient food and more recently also taking deliveries of fresh fruit and vegetables collectable from the Exeter depot. In May 2020 they received their first pallets with 2 or 3 pallets arriving a week to be redistributed to community groups in areas such as Liskeard (Lighthouse CIC), Bugle (Bugle Library of Things), St Erme (St Erme Community Centre) and Camelford (The Old Bank) for food parcels. Since then they have received a total of 52 tonnes of food, with each community group servicing around 200 people.
They have been overwhelmed by the positivity of the community groups they work with and how they have reacted to the mutual aid and by how many people have come forward to help, even when they might be struggling themselves.
To find out more about what Cultivate Cornwall do and support their work directly, visit: www.cultivatecornwall.com
To support our FoodStock Campaign for plugging the gap over the winter months for those most in need, please visit: https://faresharesouthwest.org.uk/foodstock-2020/