Collect for Nourish...And Get to Know Your Neighbour Too...

Mat lives in Stephens Road, Tunbridge Wells and below is how he and his fellow residents have come up with a great way to support Nourish Community Foodbank on a regular basis.

Two years ago, we started a Facebook group for our street, Stephens Road in TN4. It has become a highly successful shared space, somewhere to post requests, invites, offers and local info; a way for us to keep in touch with neighbours we know, and get to know those we don’t. There are now more members than houses (and it’s quite a long road). 
 
Since launch, we’ve used it to organise street parties, babysitters and to canvass opinion on issues such as parking and street lights. People have swapped baby stuff, given away fence panels, swapped tradesmen recommendations, and even begged emergency cheese. And for the last year, we’ve also used it to organise a monthly Nourish food collection.
 
The logistics are pretty simple: an informal committee of 9 neighbours - who volunteered through the group - have met a couple of times to agree dates, with two people handling the collection each month. In the run-up to the appointed day, they post reminders on Facebook, to remind people as they make their weekly shop. Then on the morning they split up and take one half of the street each, collecting donations from doorsteps. Then it’s off to the Big Yellow, a quick pic of the collection to post on the page, and we’re done. 
 
A member of our nearest church, St Luke’s, lives on the road. As a result, there’s a collection box at the back of the church for donations, which are pooled with ours and dropped down at the same time. At harvest festival time, that was quite a haul.
 
Not everyone is on Facebook, of course, and not everyone checks it frequently. So at our last meeting, we put together a leaflet that explained Nourish and how our collection is organised, and included a list of items that would be welcome and collection dates. With a self-adhesive magnet stuck to the back that became a fridge reminder, posted through every letterbox earlier this year.
 
There’s more we could do, I’m sure: it tends to be the same households that donate each month, for example, so making a better case to others - and people new to the road - would be worthwhile. But I also like to think that a collection like this benefits the street, too: it’s an expression of neighbourliness, a shared cause. 
 
As you can tell, we’re big fans of our not-so-little Facebook group. If you’re thinking of setting one up, make sure the privacy settings are set so that the content can’t be seen publicly, and people’s posts into the group can’t be seen by others. Anyone can add their connection into a group, but not everyone on the road will be Facebook friends with others. So we also have a standalone Facebook account that anyone can befriend, and that person can then be added into the group by the administrator. 
 
It sounds complicated, but it’s not: it just means that you can become a member of the group without being Facebook friends with anyone else in there. That was really useful initially: but over the two years of the group’s existence, as we’ve all got to know each other, virtual acquaintances in the group have become a close network of real-life friends. 
 
 

If you’d like any advice on setting up a group or organising a Nourish collection, please get in touch with office@nourishcommunityfoodbank.org.uk

 

  

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