Updated: Feb 2
If you’re keeping yourself up to date with the latest happenings on our Facebook page you would know that we have a brand new Coffee Shop opening in Risca very soon! What you might not know is that this Coffee Shop is our first hybrid concept - combining a coffee shop and a local pantry where anyone (once they’ve signed up for our membership scheme) can get a basket of fresh, frozen and/or ambient goods for just £3!
Imagine boosting your weekly shop with a £3 basket full of food!
Why Risca Needs a Pantry
We Connect is the brainchild of RCV UK founders Tara Holloway-Scott and Dawn Derravan. After heading RCV UK through the Global Pandemic, three major lockdowns and a prolonged local lockdown they have both seen a real need for change in the way food is distributed in our community.
Dawn Derraven explains; “We launched RCV UK (Risca Covid19 Volunteers) as a way to help the most vulnerable in our community during a time when lockdown meant they were completely isolated from their support systems. During that time we saw people in our community suffering with hunger and the heartbreaking choice between eating or heating. We knew we had to do something to help. The aim of RCV UK was always to help those in the community and ensure that no-one feels lonely, hungry or frightened during the global pandemic. Unfortunately, these horrible symptoms don’t go away without continued intervention.”
Tara adds; “I’ve seen the need for this Pantry directly through constant and at times almost heartbreaking conversations with people from all walks of life in our community. Over the festive period we supported Risca foodbank, as we have done since June 2020 with our TIn on a Wall scheme and we were shocked with how close Risca Foodbank and our own emergency foodbank came to being completely cleaned out. We begun to think, wouldn't it be lovely if there was a way that rather than giving people limited handouts we could find a way to give them a constant hand up - and the concept for We Connect was born.
Cutting Food Waste - One Basket at a Time
According to an article in the Independent, UK Supermarkets waste the equivalent of 190 million meals a year that could be given to charities. Less than 9% of this is donated for human consumption and instead is sent to landfill to rot while people go hungry. Working with amazing initiatives like Fareshare as well as our local superstores like Tesco Risca and Morrisons Rogerstone our Pantry aims to reposition this surplus food.
Membership to our Pantry is just £2 for six months (or 24 baskets.) This fee funds our membership to Fareshare from whom we purchase 200 KGs of surplus food, every week. Our Pantry, based in our coffee shop in Risca will open every Monday and Tuesday, between 3pm and 6pm, for our members to come and purchase their baskets. We will also be working with the amazing community champions at Tesco Risca and Morrisons Rogerstone to secure any other surplus items.
Our Coffee Shop
When we’re not running as a Pantry you can come and support us with our Coffee Shop open between 8am and 1pm on Mondays and Tuesdays and 8am - 4pm Wednesday - Friday. We have carefully selected some delicious local bakers and cake suppliers to provide baked goods for us. We also have an ethical ethos at the core of We Connect - our coffee beans are 100% sustainable and our takeaway cups are 100% compostable. We’ll also have our coffee grinds available for our customers to take home with them for their gardens. Finally don’t worry Vegans - we’ll have something for you too (a lot of our admin team are vegetarian or vegan so it is very much at the forefront of what we do.)
Our menu will be limited focusing on baked goods, drinks and paninis but we promise to provide a comfortable and friendly atmosphere where you can connect with your friends and family - or our wi-fi whatever you prefer.
We Connect is totally not for profit. So anything you purchase from our Coffee Shop will go towards funding all future projects and activities we support in Risca and the surrounding areas.
We’ll be opening our doors very soon - we’ll be announcing a date on our We Connect Facebook page in the next few days. At the moment we’re just getting our interior to be as cosy as it can possibly be for you all and training up our new staff members and volunteers. By mid-February you’ll be able to relax and unwind in our snug with one of delicious coffees and locally sourced baked goods. Or you can restock your cupboards, fridges and freezers with a basket from our pantry - saving landfill and your bank balance.
Our final word comes from Tara: “It’s been a long tiring process getting We Connect set up and ready but we know how much unspoken value this is going to add to people in this community. The cost of living is constantly on the rise and we are all feeling the pinch. Our shopping bills are significantly higher than they were just one year ago for at times significantly less. We Connect is an opportunity to ensure no-one in Risca and the surrounding areas goes hungry with the added benefit of reducing unnecessary landfill waste.”
None of this would have been possible without the funding we have received from The Welsh Government Food Poverty and Insecurity Grant or the Screwfix Foundation. Thanks to both of our backers for making this Coffee Shop & Pantry a reality. Thank you for your support with our Pantry. You can find We Connect located at 60 Tredegar Street Risca. If you would like to get involved as a volunteer with us you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.