Meeting Emily

Meeting Emily

Despite the disruption caused by storm Arwen an undeniable christmassy tingle of excitement is slowly creeping up on us, and things at Vinnie’s are getting even busier than usual. The team are pulling out all the stops to make sure everyone feels cared for, and I popped in last week to speak to one of the newest team members, Emily, to find out how things were going.

Emily started working at Vinnie’s on the Kickstart scheme shortly after graduating from Newcastle University this summer. They clearly have the kind of ‘can do’ energy and attitude that no doubt make them a great fit here, and they didn’t hesitate to show me around the new Thursday drop in session, designated for matching clothes and larger items to the right recipients in need.

“We visit people everyday with toiletry parcels and food parcels, but people would come in on any day and we would put a package together… but there’s more demand, people looking for winter coats, winter jumpers, people and families from different hotels and hostels who are referred to us.

For clothing, or bigger requests, we need to head up and down the stairs (from the storage area) for people’s packages, and check that they like it, it’s the right size, and then head back up to switch things around if necessary. We realised that people needed more than 10 – 15 minutes, some of them needed a whole hour, and so we made the designated drop in on Thursday, and set up an appointment system to ensure everyone gets what they need.”

This is typical of Vinnie’s approach to assisting people in crisis, where as far as possible those reaching out are given the time, space, and emotional support to make their own choices, and are respected as active agents in their own lives despite difficult circumstances.

I asked Emily how they feel about their role at Vinnie’s, now that they’ve had a few months experience;

“I often find myself thinking, we’re doing good work. If the least we can do is provide food for a warm meal tonight or food for a family tonight, that’s one less thing they need to think about.”

I was brought up Christian and so my values fit well here, but one of the first things Rebecca (Centre Manager) told me is that it’s not just about Christian values (at Vinnie’s) it’s about human values.”

Like so many of our oldest charities, St Vincent’s Newcastle is a faith based organisation with a mission founded on Christian values, but it is also a living, evolving, contemporary space that considers every single person with the same due care and respect. It is a multifaith, multicultural space, that welcomes everyone regardless of age, sex, gender identity, or circumstance, and the team work tirelessly to ensure that the human values of dignity, opportunity, equality, safety, peace, and friendship extend into everything they do.

If you would like to join this fantastic team as a volunteer there are plenty of ways to get involved, especially coming up to a busy Christmas time! From supporting the Thursday sessions between 12 – 3pm, to wrapping and delivering Christmas gifts or serving in Tuesday’s cafe. Perhaps you could organise a work break-out day and volunteer as a group to give your colleagues a new insight into their community. Your time is an invaluable gift!

Many thanks to Emily for sharing their time, it was an absolute pleasure to meet up and learn from their insights.


If you are available to help in any way and would like to get involved, email emmab@svp.org.uk to find out more.


Reaching out for Vinnie's this Christmas

St Vincent's Christmas 2021

Reaching out for Vinnie's this Christmas

Winter is a complicated time, full of contradictions. Dark and cold mixed with sparkling light and comfort. Reflections on the year behind us, who and what may have passed us by, alongside hopes and ideas for what the future might bring. Poignancy, levity, and straight up outrageous celebration have characterised this time of year for generations, and following the year (or two) that we’ve just lived through, no doubt that heady mix will play out in all its facets this festive season.

We’ve all been strained in one way or another by the events following the pandemic. I could write a list here, but where would I start and end, given the absolutely bonkers geopolitical landscape we’re now living in? Sometimes it feels like too much to process, and in all honesty, we’re ready to let down our hair and raise a glass of something with one hand, and a mince pie with the other.

We’re still cautious but excited. Lots of us are looking forward to finally getting together with family and friends for long overdue celebrations, and all of the guests and clients who use St Vincent’s precious services are feeling that way too.

Vinnie’s is there all year, offering support, picking up the pieces and bridging the gap when world events disrupt lives forever, stretch services to breaking point, and leave people on our streets feeling there’s nowhere to turn. For so many people in Newcastle, Vinnie’s is their friend, their family, their community, and in the midst of extreme hardship there will be celebration, sparkling lights and comfort for them too this festive season.

When we decided to refocus our business mission it was because we realised that our region can thrive if we consider and support the wellbeing of everyone who is part of it. Vinnie’s is a nucleus for some, but we’re all part of this regional community, so let’s lift each other up and celebrate all our successes this year, whatever they may be!

In order to reach as many people as possible with some festive joy, the team at Vinnie’s are now reaching out for donations. Alongside a fantastic, free 3 course Christmas meal for around 150 people, with festive entertainment and gifts, there will be additional Christmas hampers and gifts for families and other individuals who’ve received support from Vinnie’s this year.

There are no end of options for helping out. From making an online donation to the Vinnie’s Christmas Hamper Appeal, to packing up a christmas gift box, or holding a food drive at work. Give us a shout and we will happily pick up collections of donated items from your workplace to deliver to Vinnie’s too. We’re in this together! Take a look at the list below, have a chat with your colleagues, and let’s see how we can help out people in our region this Christmas time.

It costs around £3.50 per person to provide a 3 course meal this Christmas

Items required for hampers:

– Selection boxes
– Chocolates
– Sweets
– Biscuits
– Savoury crackers
– Cranberry/mint/apple sauces
– Gravy granules
– Stuffing mix
– Cakes
– Christmas cake
– Sweet mince pies
– Custard
– Rice pudding
– Tinned fruit
– Tinned veg
– Tinned potatoes
– Smash

Christmas gifts:

You can donate individual items or make up a gift box for a man, woman, teen or child. Please add a small label to your gift indicating which age group it is for.

– New toys – babies, Toddlers, Girls, Boys, Teens
– Mens gift sets – deodorants, aftershaves, socks
– Ladies gift sets – perfume, body sprays, cosmetics
– New boxed games and books – all ages


You can drop your donation off directly to St. Vincent’s by the 10th of December, or if your workplace has a large collection of items, send us an email at hello@feelgoodfruit.co.uk and we’ll arrange a collection.


Partnership outcomes for October 2021

Partnership outcomes: October 2021

This month we’ve started to get a better insight into the vast array of work that the team at St Vincent’s do everyday, and let me tell you, it’s been a real eye opener.

We’ve lived in Newcastle for years and know the distinctive building that houses Vinnie’s well. Speaking for myself, I had vague notions of ‘charity’ work going on there, but it wasn’t until we started investigating potential community partners that I was able to see past the walls and beyond the homogenising ‘charity’ label, to the diverse, energetic, warm community of people working to connect those who need help with tailored support, every day. This snapshot from a single day, written by Emma Bell, Project Coordinator, is a fantastic insight.

‘We have provided a range of support to clients today.

Supported a family with curtains for their new home and managed to get a couple of pairs of school shoes for their little boy.

A mam asked us to help support her two growing boys with clothes, underwear, socks, coats and trainers along with some trainers for herself.

We supported a very distressed gentleman who spoke very little English. Our time was needed to just really be there and listen, he was very lonely and I do think he will become a regular visitor to us.

Our volunteer Dave collected a very large support pack of clothing, bedding and other essential household items which was taken to support a family in the west end of Newcastle.

Met a young lad who is recently homeless and is following all the right things to hopefully find somewhere quickly to stay. He came along to the Centre got food so Jan kindly made him up a bag of snacks and a hot meal of pies and beans (which he requested).

A lady who has recently transitioned was in desperate need of clothing and shoes to fit. Our amazing team have worked really hard to make sure that she got all the items of clothing, shoes and underwear that she needed. This will help make a huge difference to how she is feeling.

This is just a handful of support we have offered just today. The centre is a warm and welcoming place anyone can pop while we are open and receive any help and support they may need.’

instagram.com/vinniescafe.ouseburn

The other thing that has blown us away this month is just how far this team make a financial donation go. In terms of donations, £200 from the Feelgood fund is pretty small potatoes, but amazingly that has almost exclusively paid for every free, hot 3 course meal served at Vinnie’s cafe this October. That’s 444 meals! Hats off to catering supervisor Jan for her careful planning and ingenuity in making that happen. Wow!

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St Vincent's
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You
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444 free hot meals in October

Feelgood + St Vincent’s + You
£200 fresh produce

“Having the money from the Feelgood fund means we can include our guests in meal planning”.

If you’re experiencing food insecurity for any reason, your right to choose what you eat becomes almost nonexistent. Choice is humanising, empowering. Being included in decision making, and being valued for your opinion is enabling, especially when so many other facets of life are out of your control.

Our clients

You are amazing! We’ve only just got started and we’ve already achieved so much together. Can’t wait to see what we can do in November!

Adderstone Group

Cobalt Hospital

Edward Robertson

End

PHMR

Poptop

The Core

Ubisoft CRC

UNW


Emma and Jan share insights into the experience of Homelessness as they prepare to raise funds by sleeping rough for a night.

Sleep Out

Emma and Jan share insights into the experience of Homelessness as they prepare to raise funds by sleeping rough for a night.

The evening sun was painting every building on the horizon with glorious slabs of gold when we arrived on Byker Bridge to meet Emma and Jan. It’s an odd city space. An intersection between some of the most deprived areas in our region, newly developed student apartments, one of the coolest neighbourhoods in the world, according to Time Out magazine, and Newcastle’s city centre.

The people passing by felt like they were shedding the working day and moving into their evening mindset. The Tanners pub, opposite St Vincent’s, was coming gently to life, while rush hour traffic ground it’s way slowly over the bridge, taking weary people home.

We heard a car horn calling out to us, and Emma Bell, project manager, and Jan Cruikshanks, catering supervisor at Vinnie’s had arrived to have a quick chat with us before they set off for a night of rough sleeping to raise money for St. Vincent’s, and awareness about the realities of being homeless.

They emerged from the car bundled up in coats and grabbing hats. It was going to be a cold night for a sponsored ‘sleep out’, but this team knows the impact that funds raised on the night could make on how much they can support the community through the winter. After a quick catch up on Vinnie’s Cafe (‘104 meals this week!’), I asked Emma what was on the cards for the night ahead;

“We’re going to meet two other teams in town who’ll be doing outreach (distributing toiletries, snacks and treats), Making Winters Warmer and Destiny Streetworx, who do outreach on weekends and evenings. We’ll meet up with them, have a wander round and probably see most of the guys that we see at Vinnie’s through the day. Then we’re going to Hebburn Sports Ground where we’ll be spending the night. It would’ve been nice to spend the night in the city centre but the police will not allow it, so we can’t do that.”

Being ‘moved along’ is a real problem for homeless people who, despite the incredible work of organisations like St Vincent’s, Crisis and Shelter, lack the facilities and support networks to address the root causes of their situation, and often end up feeling further victimised and pushed out onto the edges of society. The worst case scenario is an arrest, or being fined an amount that would be almost impossible to pay, adding criminalisation to an already complicated list of issues that create and perpetuate homelessness.

Nevertheless, Emma and Jan make the best out of everything, and never let an opportunity to highlight the challenges people in our community are facing, go by;

“It doesn’t matter where we are, I think when we’re on the ground we’re going to get a sense of what the lads and lasses out on the street are dealing with everyday, and to be honest, I think we’re lucky, because the weather is not as cold as it could be. You’ll remember a couple of Tuesdays ago the torrential rain, they’re going to have to put up with all of that and freezing temperatures through the winter, so they have tough times ahead, but hopefully we’ll raise awareness and raise some funds to support them tonight”

I asked if there’s been an increase in rough sleeping over the last few years, curious about the impacts of austerity measures and their contribution to the rapid reduction in community services. The homeless population of Newcastle city centre, to me at least, certainly seems to have increased dramatically over the past decade, and we know that Covid has pushed even more people over the poverty line.

“During the lockdowns the council did take most of the people in and find them accommodation, but obviously that accommodation isn’t available now and they are coming back out to the street. We’ve got the hostel, which is for people who have been homeless or are at risk of homelessness, and it’s always full. If there is a bed, the room is turned around very quickly because there’s always someone else waiting to come in it – so we are seeing a lot more people. We have 21 beds and it’s busy all the time.”

And for those who can’t access a hostel, or aren’t, for whatever reason, emotionally ready or able to start the journey towards leaving the streets, they know that they come to Vinnie’s for basics and ongoing support.

“All of our guys and lasses when they come in, we’ll give them foil blankets, sleeping bags, anything they can lie on, often a tent, but obviously things get stolen, so they have to come back and get more. I think we’re just so Lucky that tomorrow we’ll be waking up and going home to our family, to our homes and our own beds.”

By now the light was fading fast, the burnished buildings were concrete once again, and we’d kept Emma and Jan from their night for long enough. We wished them well as they headed off to meet the other teams, Jan getting in a final quip;

“This sleeping bag has been to Kilimanjaro. It’s my step son’s. It’s supposed to be a thermal one but I’ll tell him tomorrow whether it works!”.


We were pleased to hear from Emma the next day that the night had been a cold one but the sleeping bags held out well! If you would like to make a pledge to add to the total raised so far towards keeping Vinnie’s going through winter, just click here to go to their Just giving page.

You can read Emma’s account of the night at on linkedin

If you’re concerned about someone sleeping rough, you can access more information on how to help from the Newcastle City Website at https://bit.ly/3EagYU3


St Vincent’s catering supervisor Jan Cruickshanks gives us an insight into life at Vinnie’s.

Vinnie's Café

Obviously, we’d been to St Vincent’s Newcastle before. We had the pleasure of meeting centre manager, Rebecca, and Emma, the project manager, earlier in the year when we came to propose ‘teaming up to feed some people’, a task that they are both highly skilled and experienced in.

Following an absorbing meeting, hearing about the vast framework of support and opportunities the St Vincent’s team deliver into the Newcastle community, we walked out of the building into an airy summer’s day feeling full of optimism and determination but not really sure where this journey would take us, or to be frank, exactly what we were doing.

When we decided to refocus our business mission it was because we recognised that the community isn’t something ‘out there’, it’s something we are part of, and our region can thrive if we consider and support the wellbeing of everyone who is part of it. Donations, grants and sponsorship are the lifeblood of the third sector, but insight can lead to action, and action can lead to change, and let’s face it, having families starving and living in poverty in our region is unacceptable, and has to change. Which brings us to the second, but by no means lesser, focus of our business mission…

‘To dedicate time to understanding the scope of work and the people involved in our community partner organisations, providing a link between the commercial and third sectors, not only by sharing resources but by sharing real life insights and stories.’

So, there we were, full of determination, ideas, and Byker sunshine, hoping Rebecca and Emma would be patient with us, as our first ever community partners, while we got to grips with our processes and learned how to document their work as an organisation with sensitivity, and without crossing any ethical boundaries.

Skip forward a couple of months to the bleakest, greyest October day so far (you know, the one where it poured down a month’s worth of rain in one day..), and our education was well underway thanks to the wonderful Jan Cruikshanks.

As Catering Supervisor at St Vincents, Jan is primarily the mastermind behind all the meals prepared for Vinnie’s Café, a weekly drop-in lunch service providing free meals for the local homeless population, alongside pay-as-you-please meals and drinks for anyone experiencing hardship. We started delivering Jan’s fresh veg order for the cafe when we launched our partnership back in September, but this was our first visit to see the cafe in action and get a better insight into Jan’s work.

We arrived half way through a busy Tuesday lunch session, and the large hall that houses the Café was still buzzing with people. Guests were talking and eating around tables, volunteers took lunch orders and served teas and coffees, and peering into the kitchen we could see a hub of activity as food was prepared and dishes washed.

It wasn’t long before Jan came out to greet us, and with a firm but kind hand, began showing us how things are done. Picking us up with the energy of a methodical whirlwind, she directed us through the inner workings of the café without missing a beat.

“The tables are set out with volunteers on each section. Our guests tend to come in and get a pastry, donated by Sainsburys usually, and a tea, coffee or hot chocolate. Today Marilyn and Jill are serving hot soup, and once our guests have had that, their lunch order will be taken and brought to the kitchen.”

We were moved seamlessly over to the kitchen to take a look at the next part of the process, and introduced to the team of volunteers doing the cooking and plating up. Though they gave us a welcoming ‘hello’, it was clear they were expert hands focused on the job of getting out today’s lunch, a hearty stew, mash, cabbage and carrots, that honestly looked delicious. “We always make sure there’s a vegetarian option too, and a pudding.” It’s easy to overlook the importance of the pleasure and joy we get from food, alongside the nutritional value. The home made apple crumble with ice cream or custard on today’s menu was the perfect comfort food for a wet autumn day.

After pausing for a quick photo (again, Jan stepped up to do her duty as everyone else was feeling camera shy) we moved on. Looking inside a huge upright freezer, also a donation, there was box upon box of carefully stored food, ready to be turned into a hot meal whenever the opportunity presented itself. Being reliant on what is donated or bought through FareShare means choice is rarely an option when it comes to planning for the Café. Jan is scrupulously careful with any produce that comes her way. Nothing is wasted, everything is treasured and eked out to ensure that, no matter what, there is a healthy, hot meal available every week at Vinnie’s for the people who need it.

“Having the money from the Feelgood fund means we can include our guests in meal planning. I ask a few different guests each week, so they have some say in what they’re going to be eating. If we haven’t got money, then it’s just what we get donated. I have to be very aware of getting the most out of the money. One group joked they wanted Tomahawk steaks for lunch – I said, yeah, when we win the lottery!”

I asked Jan how many meals were getting served each week now that some semblance of post lockdown normality has returned;

“Last week we did 76 meals, the most we’ve done is 94, way over pre covid numbers because people are really struggling. We help people who are sleeping on the street, we help families who are struggling, and I think the way things are going at the moment we’re going to have a lot more, with the universal credit cut, which to me is appalling.”

She isn’t alone in her view, in fact a 100 strong coalition of prominent national organisations, including the North East Child Poverty Commision, signed a joint open letter to the Prime Minister, calling on him not to implement the £20 a week cut to Universal Credit this October 6th. Clearly, the planned cut has gone ahead, reducing the income of approximately 6 million people living close to the poverty line by over £1,000 per year. As Jan is all too aware, the impact of that will hit hard as the winter months unfold.

“When you’ve had something for a couple of weeks, you know that’s that, but when you’ve had it for nearly two years, you’ve depended on it. To suddenly have it taken away is devastating for a lot of people. And then you’ve got the gas and electric going up, families now have to fit that in, it’s coming up to christmas, how are they going to manage?”

Listening to Jan it was clear that she takes her commitment to her position at St Vincent’s very seriously, this isn’t just a job, it’s a vocation. She seemed stoic and focused, intent on pouring her abundant energy into delivering on her role, and I’m guessing anything else that ‘just needs doing’ too.

With the tour of the kitchen over, we were ushered back out to the hall and Jan directed us to the best vantage point for a photo while simultaneously checking in with a volunteer manning the tea and coffee area, “Peter are you alright – are you alright in a photo?”. She has a dry sense of humour, but also a sparkle and warmth that comes across even in the middle of a wet Tuesday lunch service. I asked her the story of how she came to hold her pivotal position at Vinnie’s Café;

“How do I start? I got a text off a friend saying Vinnie’s has had a big donation from a local supermarket, can you pick it up? I said of course no problem, and that was over a year ago. We have a store of donated clothes, baby equipment, nappies, toiletries and everything anyone struggling might need, and through the pandemic I was delivering food parcels, clothes parcels, everything. I was helping in our shop too, when Emma, one of the project managers, texted me saying ‘Jan, the cook’s off sick..can you cook?’ so I volunteered in that role for 12 weeks and when the cook sadly left, they suggested I apply for the job. I didn’t want a job, but the job wanted me, so now I’m the catering supervisor!”

My inkling that Jan goes the extra mile was on the mark too. Looking ahead to a busy Christmas time, Jan and Emma plan to ‘Sleep Out’ to help raise essential funds for the months ahead.

“At Christmas time we do a whole proper christmas meal, make up food hampers for families with christmas treats in, and everyone will get a present. So me and Em, are sleeping out on the 15th of October (please pray for no rain!) and getting sponsors to raise money to help us through the winter. At 63 years old I’m sleeping on the street to raise money for people who do it every night.

A lot of people have said to me, why are you sleeping on the street? and I say because I’m lucky, I go home to a nice comfortable house. It’s one night and it makes such a difference. As I say, I didn’t need a job, the job needed me – just to help so many people is just amazing. You look at the people we’re helping, I go and see the families and I see the conditions they’re living in. I can see what people need and it breaks my heart. And it’s not just the people sitting in this building, it’s out in our whole area. It really does get in your blood… .And that’s about it from me.”

We no doubt took up way too much of Jan’s precious time, and can’t thank her enough for showing us around and sharing her thoughts and insights.


As well as sleeping out to raise funds, Jan and Emma will also be taking packs of treats, snacks, and essentials like Tampax, wipes, and other toiletries to distribute to homeless people on the night. If you would like to support them with a donation, that would be absolutely brilliant and very much appreciated – click here to make your pledge.


We talk to Rachel Bowden at Ubisoft CRC about workplace wellbeing

Client Focus - Ubisoft CRC

Dropping into Ubisoft CRC is always a total pleasure. The building itself is a light and airy city centre hub of activity above Newcastle’s Haymarket, with an interior layout designed to flow considerately between work, quiet, and gathering spaces.

Today we’re here to meet Rachel Bowden, the Workplace Co-ordinator, who greets us on the ground floor to help bring up today’s delivery, which includes a special order of pumpkins in all shapes and sizes – autumn is coming into the office! In fact, there’s always something fun and unique happening here.

Rachel Bowden - Ubisoft CRC, Workplace Co-ordinator

Earlier in the week the staff team celebrated the launch of the new video game ‘Far Cry 6’. Based around a story of revolution in a fictional Caribbean country, we arrive to find the entrance to the building has been dressed like a set from the game, with jungle foliage, a ‘burning’ barrel, and a havoc wreaking chicken in a studded choker (a character from the game, of course). Not generally what you expect to come across on a delivery run at 9am on a Wednesday morning.

“Ooo yes, get a photo of him!” Rachel is brimming with enthusiasm and generosity as usual as she opens the lift for us and our boxes. “We had so much fun at the launch. Game launches are probably the most exciting days for our people because everyone’s common ground is their love of gaming, it’s the common denominator.” And when it comes to celebrating a milestone like this the company really does go all out to make it about the team, with an approach that’s both playful and inclusive.

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In fact inclusivity is at the heart of the Ubisoft CRC approach to wellbeing. “Most of our staff are from europe or the middle east so people don’t have family support or established networks on hand. Aside from work, there’s potential for some of those people to feel isolated or alone so we really do try to do everything to bring everyone together and make it a family. It’s great to have people returning to the office now. We’re social animals really, people thrive on connection and community.”

And even though play is no doubt second nature to an international video games company, there is also care with a more serious focus on offer here. Mental and physical health initiatives are available to every team member and run alongside practical health support such as physiotherapy. Using Feelgood as a workplace fruit supplier is in harmony with that holistic approach to wellbeing, as Rachel explained,

“When it comes to our team, we do everything we can to respond to their needs. We want everyone to feel supported as individuals, not just employees, and protecting their whole well being is part of our ethic.”

“Offering a supply of fresh fruit to our staff is about so much more than healthy eating. From a company viewpoint, we want our team to know that we actively care about their mental and physical wellbeing. It’s a simple thing, but the fruit really helps to send that message, and the take up and feedback is always great.”

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Turning outward, Ubisoft CRC are always looking for ways to feed into and connect with organisations working to improve the lives of people in our regional community too, and when we begin to discuss the new focus of Feelgood Fruit, it’s clear that this is something Rachel is really passionate about.

Since September Feelgood has committed to using £1 of profit from every fruit box sold to help deliver fresh, nutritionally rich, food to people who are suffering from food insecurity in the Northeast.

“It’s such a shame that it’s so hard to find anywhere that can take in fresh food and pass it on to the people who really need it. We’ve done food drives before for food banks who are doing an amazing job, but it’s all dried foods and tins of things.”

Rachel is right of course, it’s a huge infrastructural challenge to store and supply fresh produce, making it hard for food insecure people to access. To compound the problem, food banks and community organisations that have been a lifeline for so many are now absolutely stretched to the limit, and the number of people accessing them is unlikely to reduce in the foreseeable future. That’s why we’re teaming up with some fantastic community partners over the next year to see if we can help bridge the gap.

So far this September, thanks to our corporate clients buying fruit from us, and in collaboration with our first community partner St Vincent’s Newcastle, we were able to fund approximately 320 made-from-scratch, hot, free meals for people in our community suffering from food insecurity.

On Ubisoft CRC’s behalf, Rachel didn’t hesitate to go the extra distance and add a weekly box of 50 pieces of fruit to that fresh food total through September, making a real difference to the people who access St Vincent’s Byker based community centre for services, support and friendship. The really exciting thing is, the more businesses choose us for their workplace fruit and milk supply, the more we can give! We’re really excited to see what we can achieve together on the run up to the end of the year.

As our meeting comes to an end, we wander into the open plan staff kitchen area where a few people have gathered around the pumpkins, sharing stories about autumn, childhood memories, and comfort food recipes (the visual prompt is already working it’s magic, bringing people together and getting them talking). I find myself swept along in the conversation and mention my legendary (well.. in my house at least) mac ‘n’ cheese recipe featuring squash and a dash of mustard powder. Sadly the business of the day presses on and it’s time for us to leave, but Rachel’s sparkling enthusiasm has set the tone for a great day… and I know exactly what we’re having for dinner tonight.

Many thanks to Rachel for taking the time to share her insights and approach to workplace wellbeing with us.