Look at the huge shopping haul this kind-hearted mum and daughter did – just so they could donate it to a food hub.
Fiona Phipps and her little girl Elsie, five, decided to help the FoodCycle charity based in Rednal and Rubery after Elsie started learning about people less fortunate than her.
Already avid litter-pickers, the caring duo decided to ask for sponsorship for the rubbish they collected through their Rednal Litter Busters group and they were delighted to raise £120 which they spent at Lidl.
“Elsie was sad at the thought of people not having much,” said Fiona, who runs AP Home and Gardens landscaping business with her husband from their home in Rednal.
“We wanted her to be aware of what’s going on in the world, not to be blind-sided by it and we thought that’s how we would start.”
Collecting £120 from 19 bin bags full of rubbish, Fiona and Elsie took the money straight to Lidl where, between them, they stocked up on tins, bottles and treats for those in need.
“We were buying 30p cans and trying to calculate them in our heads to get up to £120. We’d asked Kirsty at FoodCycle for a list of items they needed so we picked up things like tinned veg and potatoes, pasta, soup and we added some treats like nice biscuits too.
“It worked out quite well. When we got to the till, we thought we’d spent about £121. But it actually came to £130. I’ll blame Elsie’s maths for that,” joked Fiona.
They then took a massive haul to the hub. FoodCycle was set up to combat loneliness and hunger. Throughout lockdown, the volunteer service has worked as a food hub for the Rubery, Sutton Coldfield and Weoley Castle areas. It is now offering a takeaway service and a ‘check in and chat service’.
“They were so grateful at the hub,” said Fiona, “Elsie helped to carry it all in and Kirsty at the hub gave her a bag of sweets so she was really pleased with that. Kirsty does so much and she has done for years, she deserves all the recognition. We’ve only been doing this for the last few months.”
But this was not the first haul Elsie and her mum had taken to FoodCycle.
It all began at the start of December when they made a ‘reverse advent calendar’ out of a cardboard box, decorated it with tinsel then put in one item on December 1, two items on December 2, three on December 3 and so on right up to December 20 when they took it to the charity so that the food and treats could be distributed in time for Christmas.
Fiona explained: “I’ve been looking for ideas of things to do with her over lockdown and we’d never done a reverse advent calendar before so we thought we’d give it a go.
“Elsie said why don’t we ask our friends and family if they want to put something into the reverse advent calendar? So we shared it on Facebook and put it on our business page and lots of people donated so we went and collected the items and took in a massive haul to FoodCycle.
“There was food, toiletries, advent calendars, chocolates and biscuits and Christmas presents too.”
Elsie and Fiona are now looking to devote March to raising money to buy Easter eggs to give to the families helped by FoodCycle. Find out more and how you can help via their Rednal Litter Busters Facebook page.
How FoodCycle helps those in need
Initially FoodCycle was helped by government grants but as they slowed down, they’ve had to rely more on supermarket and pet store surplus donations.
In the run-up to this lockdown, they were receiving donations from Birmingham Wholesale Markets but that has eased off now that the hospitality industry is closed.
Now they are relying a lot on individual donations and volunteers like Fiona and Elsie.
FoodCycle volunteer Kirsty Simone says that donations from people like the Phipps makes a huge difference: “There’s a family I deliver to in South Birmingham where both parents have health conditions and that brings financial limitations.
“They have a teenager and a much younger child. Without their FoodCycle delivery, I don’t know how they would survive. They’ve been relying on us since March.
“Every week, the mum calls to a request a food parcel and then every week after it’s been delivered, she calls to say thank you. Lots of people say thank you at the time or call up once but it means such a lot that she calls every single time to say how much she appreciates it.”
If you can donate or volunteer, find out more about FoodCycle here
Kirsty added: “It’s not means tested. We had a family call last week who had tested positive and had to isolate and had no food in.
“They said they’d never normally call a food bank but they didn’t know what to do. We told them that was what we were here for and took them a parcel.
“People can also request pet food, nappies, toiletries, baby milk and food, wipes, household cleaning products and any dietary requirements.”
FoodCycle parcels tend to include:
pasta or rice
baked beans or spaghetti hoops
tinned meat, like a pie or beef ravioli
tinned fish, like tuna or sardines
pasta or rice sauce packet
treats dependent on what’s been donated – such as biscuits, pastries or cakes, crisps, chocolate bars
fresh fruit and veg, depending on what’s been donated
tinned fruit or rice pudding
* Are you a family in need of support? Get in touch via our Brummie Mummies Facebook page or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org