The Umbrella Café CIC
Improving health and wellbeing
Reducing social isolation, food waste and food insecurity and improve the health and wellbeing in their local community of Whitstable
About the project
The Umbrella Café’s aim is to reduce social isolation, food waste and food insecurity and improve the health and wellbeing in their local community of Whitstable. Their community café provides food and a space for people to meet alongside; a pay what you can menu, free frozen meals available for anyone in need and a variety of weekly support groups.
Their weekly Social Pantry diverts surplus food from landfill and provides an opportunity for families and individuals in need to access support, fresh produce for a minimal spend along with the opportunity to connect with their community and find additional support.
The grant covered half their fixed costs, including rent, insurance, accounting and software plus one third of the salary for their Project Development Manager for six months.
Results from the funding
- 80-150 visits a month to the Pantry
- Divert approx. 900kg of food from landfill every month
- 33% of users report the Pantry is their only social opportunity
- 70% of members feel that the Pantry has helped them to meet new people and gain the confidence to attend other social events
- 90% of member households are now eating more healthily because of the food they can get at the pantry
- The wider community have benefitted as they have raised the profile of surplus food and started a conversation around food waste and surplus cooking.
Margaret is a widow who lives alone. She became extremely isolated during Covid and a recent fall made her anxious about leaving the house. Margaret was referred to the Social Pantry by her GP and it took her a few visits to the cafe to be confident enough to sign up. Margaret visited every Wednesday and now comes one hour early to chat with other members, she has met people she would not normally encounter and built friendships that exist outside the Pantry.
The Pantry has also supported her to eat healthily, something she was struggling with as she lives on a very low income and was frightened to go to the supermarket.
Margaret now pops into the café on other days of the week to say hi, have a cuppa on the pay it forward and has begun to gain her confidence back. She feels much more connected to her community now and has come to the pantry team for support with paperwork and was able to be referred to additional support services.