Earlier this year Preston-based Cafe, The Larder, in Preston, was forced to close its doors due to COVID-19 but refused to shut out the community.
Manager Kay Johnson put a call out on social media and within 24 hours had recruited 40 volunteers to help cook and deliver free meals to some of the community’s most vulnerable residents. A fundraising campaign raised £8,500 to cover costs and since April the community-owned cafe has provided thousands of meals, as well as organising ingredient kits and online recipes for families in most need.
Kay said: “The café was set up last year to serve the community and we couldn’t sit and watch people that we knew needed support be left to fend for themselves. I was absolutely overwhelmed by the wave of support from volunteers and how much we’ve been able to do in such a short time. Being a co-operative is important to us and we had to find different ways to help our members and the wider community.”
Co-ops across the UK supported their communities during lockdown. LILAC Co-housing, in Leeds, provided a built in support network for neighbours; Edinburgh Bike Co-op repaired bikes for key workers; and retail societies such as The Co-op Group are working hard to support vulnerable customers, food banks and staff during this difficult time.
Listen to our More than a Shop podcast to hear the inspirational stories of how these co-ops supported their communities during the lockdown period.