Ipswich youth charity working hard for vulnerable people this Christmas

A youth charity in Ipswich is providing healthy hot meals to residents thanks to food donations from its local Tesco store.

YMCA Trinity is a charity providing vulnerable young people with supported housing, training and education opportunities. It is one of a number of groups in Ipswich to benefit from Tesco’s Community Food Connection scheme, which sees surplus food from the store distributed to local charities and community groups each day.

The group has been receiving weekly donations of baked goods, chilled items and fruit and vegetables to help them provide hot meals to residents.

YMCA Trinity currently has 125 residents living in its supported housing scheme. Across an 18 month tenancy, a wide range of support services are provided to guests, with the aim of improving their independent living skills and employability.

The food donations are used by staff to provide healthy hot meals for residents and youth groups, in addition to providing cooking lessons for young people to improve their skill sets.

YMCA Trinity also runs a government-funded childcare setting, with 15 families currently benefitting from the initiative.

Staff at YMCA Childcare use the ingredients collected from their local Tesco store to make meals for the children, and anything leftover is packaged into food parcels to be shared with parents that need a little extra help.

As the biggest surplus food redistribution scheme of its kind in the UK, Community Food Connection sees surplus food from Tesco stores distributed to local charities and community groups.

Vicky Cairney, programme director at YMCA Trinity Group, says: “Some of our residents are in incredibly difficult circumstances, and the food donations from Tesco not only ensure that they have access to healthy hot meals, but also helps to alleviate feelings of social isolation by providing a community atmosphere where they can enjoy food.

“Some of the parents of the children that visit our youth drop in have been through very difficult times, and us being able to provide their child with a hot meal can relieve a huge amount of pressure from them. It also allows young people to socialise and make friends over a hot meal, which really does make a difference.

“Thanks to Tesco, not only can we help prevent perfectly good food from going to waste, but we’re also able to significantly reduce our costs. Without the donated food, we’d have to purchase the items ourselves, which would leave us with significantly less budget to use on supporting our young people.”

Tesco’s Head of Community, Alec Brown, said: “The service that YMCA provides for its young people is hugely commendable, and we’re proud to play a small part in the fantastic work it does for our community.

“Our Community Food Connection scheme is the biggest supermarket food redistribution scheme in the UK and I’d encourage any group looking to use food in their work to discover how they could benefit.”

If you are a charity or community group that could benefit from the support of Community Food Connection then visit www.fareshare.org.uk/fareshare-go to find out more.