The Dorking Community Fridge was opened by Clare Davies and Tony White in September 2017 to reduce food waste by making surplus food from supermarkets and other local suppliers available for local residents to pick up from the fridge at no cost.
What started as one fridge in the centre of Dorking has grown, and thanks to funding from Clarion Futures, Clare and Tony have opened fridges in a local church on Clarion’s Goodwyns Estate and in North Leatherhead, creating the Mid Surrey Community Fridges project. They have also opened a community café on the Goodwyns Estate which has become a thriving and well-supported community resource.
Building on the success of the Goodwyns Fridge, and with funding from Clarion Futures and other partners, a refrigerated van was purchased to supply waste food to people living in some of the smaller villages around Dorking and Leatherhead. In just under two years the organisation has grown from having just Tony and Clare volunteering their time to a volunteer workforce of more than 150 people.
On 20 March, in response to the coronavirus outbreak, they closed their community fridges and converted their operation overnight, so that instead of local people picking up food from the fridges, they now take referrals from local agencies and partners and deliver food bags to people’s homes.
The pandemic has seen a surge in demand and in an average week they now deliver 1,000 bags of donated food. Clare and Tony and their team of volunteers are now processing around 9,000kg of donated food each week compared to 18kg per week before the outbreak.
All this has been supported by a grant from Clarion Futures’ Emergency Support Fund which has been created to enable us to offer direct financial support to some of our longstanding partners during the coronavirus outbreak.
Clare and Tony have also been recognised by The Sun as part of its ‘Hail Your Heroes’ campaign which asks readers to share their stories of acts of helpfulness, kindness and selflessness from the general public.
Clare said: “Since lockdown began, we’ve seen a huge increase in demand, but luckily we’ve had lots of volunteers come forward to help. People who’ve been furloughed, laid off or work part-time – they all just want to do their bit and every one of them is incredible. We’re also extremely grateful to Clarion Futures for the additional funding they’ve given us which means we can continue to be there for those in need of support.”
Matt Parsonage, Head of Communities for Clarion Futures, said: “Clare and Tony and their team of volunteers are so inspiring and are working tirelessly to support their local community through these unprecedented times. They’re what community spirit is all about, and we’re proud to support them.”