“My husband and I lead the local church and we started providing breakfast parcels for local people during Covid, but after life began to return to a sort of normal, we realised that the need hadn’t gone away at all.”
The Kauls liked the grocery model offered by national charity The Message Trust so in November 2021 they set up the All Nations Telford Community Grocery in Ketley in partnership with The Message Trust, and open Monday to Friday, all year round. Local residents who are finding it hard to keep their families fed pay £5 a year to become a member, which gives them access to the grocery multiple times a week. Each visit costs £5 and members are able to have 12 items from ambient and frozen food and bundles of fruit and veg and bakery items, as well as free wrap-around support.
“Honestly, when we opened the doors that first day, we weren’t sure if anyone would come but the queue was huge,” Sarah, now the Midlands and Yorkshire Regional Manager, said. “There are now 21 Community Groceries across the country and we’re one of the busiest - which is bittersweet because it shows just how many local people are desperate for affordable food.
“We now have more than 4,000 members in Telford, ranging from the elderly to students to families. On an average day around 130 people will shop with us. We also have a “little extras” section, where we buy in food from wholesalers at a reduced price; and we buy essentials like fruit and veg so we can always offer this to members too.
“Our aim has been to make the grocery a community hub, a place where Telford people can come to when they are in need, so our memberships include access to a weekly coffee morning and cookery classes, mental health and wellbeing courses, a job club and arts and crafts. We often hold a debt management course too when we get volunteers to run it.
“The biggest thing that hits me is that many of our members are people who are in employment. We have nurses and teaching assistants signed up as members, to name just two professions. Even though they are working as much as possible the soaring cost of living means they are still finding it hard to keep their heads above water and put food on the table.
“One thing is certain – we couldn’t offer what we do without FareShare. We rely on the FareShare food to keep the shelves stocked, and I fight tooth and nail to keep the FareShare deliveries!”