Posted December 21, 2020

Biddy's 2020 Round Up!

Wow – what a year 2020 has been! Now that it is coming to an end, it is time to catch up on all that has happened at Fresh Start and reflect on our achievements in a year like no other.

It was a year of adaptation: services were quickly adjusted so that we could continue to deliver them in the logistics of a strange new world and, whilst our plans for our Community Hub were temporarily paused by Covid-19, we rallied around to make the space work for the launch of The Pantry.

From day one of lockdown, staff started making up emergency food, toiletry, and cleaning packs to meet the most immediate needs of our community. Shopping in the evening and weekends to make sure we had enough goods to go out the hundreds of families we were supporting and lending an ear to those in need of help via our dedicated phoneline for local people. We were a key player in the North Edinburgh Covid 19 Food Share Group, working with partner organisations to make sure every person had what they needed.

Our emergency response to Covid-19 saw us deliver 8,770 emergency packs to over 300 households.

This year the staff and volunteers have achieved some incredible things in a time where the outside world was a scary place, with staff overcoming their personal anxieties about the virus to ensure that parents could feed their families. Hearing feedback made it all worth it, one resident stated:

“They made me feel like I was still worth something.”

Alongside this emergency response, we never lost sight of the core community we are committed to supporting. In a world without the donations we so gratefully receive from generous donors, we purchased the goods that go into our Starter Packs and delivered 4,375 packs to those moving on from homelessness, as well as 78 white goods.

Delivering our other services also meant that we had to get creative: putting together DIY Hit Squad Kits of paint, equipment, and instructions to 20 households so that whilst social distancing meant we couldn’t go in to help, people could still make their house a home. Our gardening team formed the Green Grafters, where 15 volunteers transformed 33 gardens so that children had a safe place to play and neighbours chat over the fence. We discovered an incredible number of patios and created much needed safe greenspaces for the community to enjoy.

In June, we opened the first Your Local Pantry in Scotland and within four weeks had 200 members. Since then, we have supported two more organisations to open their Pantry doors and are working with a group from Craigmillar who will open three Pantries in the new year. Providing access to affordable and nutritious food and maintaining a stable supply in a world of toilet roll shortages and empty aisles.

Our new cooking class co-ordinators joined Team Fresh Start in November and have already had eight people join the newly launched Virtual Cooking Classes on Zoom and launched “Dish of the Day” goodies bags that 21 pantry members have been enjoying cooking at home and sharing experiences online.

Whilst work on the Hub was originally stalled by Covid, it is now underway and we are looking forward to opening the doors in Spring 2021.

And now we have reached December, Christmas is upon us and more families than ever needed our support. The Fresh Start Warehouse became Santa’s Grotto and our Elves worked with our wonderful Corporate Partners to buy, pack and deliver bespoke presents to147 children in 67 families, and stock the cupboards of 100 families through our Festive Food Packs as well as an additional 55 families receiving fresh food hampers.

“A heartfelt thank you for all you’ve done for my family, making this season a memorable one. We are so grateful for your care and support at this difficult time, its so nice to feel loved. Thanks so much for the gifts. We really appreciate. Thankyou.”

I personally think that all of this would have been an incredible achievement in normal times, but to do all of this during a national lockdown is a testament to the staff team that we have in place at Fresh Start. I feel extremely proud and privileged to be part of such an inspirational organisation with such a caring and compassionate team of staff and volunteers.

I would like to wish you all a safe, healthy and happy Christmas and look forward to seeing what we can do in 2021. If this is what we can do in 2020 then I think it is going to be a great year!