Community fridge project is making a real difference

James Ashburner helping at the community fridge rpoject in Wellington

A ‘community fridge’ project at a Telford school is helping adults with individual needs find a pathway into real paid work.

The fridge was set up at Wrekin View Primary School in Wellington around three years ago to stop holiday hunger for pupils whose parents were struggling to feed them through the school holidays.

Russell Garner, estates manager at the Learning Community Trust which runs the school, said: “The community fridge has been a great success – it was difficult during the pandemic, but with a lot of help from local people, we have managed to keep it going.

“And now, the project has grown into so many different areas thanks to the generosity and commitment of our supporters.”

As one of the off-shoot benefits of the scheme, the community fridge team is now working with the Stepping into Work organisation that supports adults with specific needs.

“The volunteers work in the community fridge once a week, filling shelves, checking dates on food, and general tidying up replicating the experience of working in a shop,” said Russell.

“Once they have gained confidence, they have the opportunity to work in school as a lunchtime volunteer, paving the way into real paid work.”

One of the volunteers who has benefited from the scheme is James Ashburner – he has worked at the fridge for over a year.

Work placement co-ordinator at Stepping into Work, Jackie Woodward, said: “James really enjoys working at the community fridge. He starts his mornings sorting out donations into their designated storage places to make it easier to locate items. James will then refill any items in the shop that need re-stocking.

“James has now started working in the school dining room. He was a little apprehensive at first as he didn’t know if he would like working in such a noisy environment, but decided to give it a go.

“Now he is responsible for distributing water to the children when they have taken their seats in the dining room – if they don’t have a drink with them, he takes them a cup of water.

“Working in the community fridge and dining room has really boosted his confidence around both adults and children, and he looks forward to going every week.

“The community fridge is a stepping stone into the working environment and we’re hoping more volunteers will follow in James’ footsteps – he’s a real success story and we’re so proud of him.”

The community fridge project also helps people with gas and electric payments; runs a community café at Christmas providing presents and Christmas dinner to take the stress out of the festive season for local families; provides furniture, carpets and beds; and works with social services.

All support is free with no need for a referral, and organisers say their aim is just to help as many people as possible.



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