Team of the Year entrant – Affordable Food Stoke

Team of the Year entrant – Affordable Food Stoke
Posted on 15.01.24
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Team of the Year entrant – Affordable Food Stoke

Affordable Food Stoke used surplus food to provide the equivalent of 157,687 meals in Stoke-on-Trent last year – but it can only continue this work because of its team of 31 volunteers.

Set up in 2016 by Staffordshire University alumni Duane Barrett and wife Nikki Barrett, the registered charity works to reduce food waste and support communities through initiatives including emergency food parcels and a ‘free food section’ where people take what they need.

Just 12 days into January and Affordable Food had already provided enough free food for 1,136 people.

“It has never been this busy so early in January,” said Duane.

Affordable Food Stoke won two accolades at the 2023 Staffordshire University Business Awards – Team of the Year and Business in the Community (Charity). It has entered Team of the Year in the 2024 awards.

Duane said: “Since the last awards ceremony we have actually taken on more volunteers to offset the demand. We have recruited two more drivers, one more kitchen staff and three lounge buddies.

“The first two positions are self-explanatory but the lounge buddy is a role we created to support our community lounge on a Tuesday and Wednesday. We offer free tea, coffee, toast and cereal as part of our lounges and to co-exist with this we recruited volunteers to just float around and sit with people. Maybe it’s their first time in? Maybe they are lonely? Maybe they are suffering with their mental health? Whatever the reason we make sure everyone is not alone when they come in. People aren’t numbers and we want everyone to feel valued and important…because they are.”

Affordable Food Stoke’s 31 volunteers work across all of the services the charity offers. Duane and Nikki offer them ongoing training and support including team building away days and a work Christmas party.

Duane added: “Our volunteers and our team are everything. They are our heartbeat and their passion and character enables everything we do to happen. It all flows through them.

“One of our core goals when we formed Affordable Food Stoke was to engage with the local community and to create positive relationships. All of our volunteers are (or were) beneficiaries of one or more of our services which just shows how important the community is to the services we provide.”

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