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Volunteers are at the heart of company's response to COVID-19

Thanks to a core team of dedicated volunteers, Community Interest Company (CIC) Sycamore Dining has been able to overhaul its services in response to COVID-19.

The organisation has adapted its usual offering to include food delivery which has benefitted many vulnerable residents. Chris Flewitt, Managing Director of Sycamore Dining, explains ...


Kitchen volunteers
Kitchen volunteers
Josh Brad-Kerr, Daniel Adcock & Ben Barber

Whilst we continue to operate, it’s in a different format than before. We used to deliver meals in a communal setting to older people at assisted living complexes but as this is no longer possible, we now deliver hot meals directly to people’s homes.

These changes have meant a massive reorganisation of procedures and some significant changes to our volunteering personnel. The immediate impact of lockdown was that we saw a dramatic reduction in our volunteers. Two of our regular kitchen volunteers returned to the NHS to support with the COVID-19 effort, four others were prevented from volunteering as they were over 70 and needed to self-isolate, two others on work experience with us stopped as their colleges closed, and a further two had to stop to care for family members.

To combat this, we turned to social media to recruit from the furloughed workforce, initially seeking professional kitchen staff and then volunteer drivers to help with meal delivery.

Thanks to some emergency external funding, we were able to offer one of our long-term regular volunteers, Mat, part-time employment. This has enabled us to operate for five days a week, where previously we could only operate for three, as well as provide continuity of service across our different kitchen teams.

Our food delivery service is now fully operational, with four volunteers supporting us in the kitchen each day and three to five volunteers providing deliveries in the community. Thanks to their efforts, we’re able to prepare and deliver over 150 meals a week, with some of our most vulnerable customers receiving seven meals a week. Our wonderful volunteers are the well-oiled cogs in our engine, helping to ensure that we provide a quality service to all!

Our service continues to evolve with the support of our partners and funders, thank you to FareShare, Co-Op, the National Lottery Community Fund, Food for Life, Nottinghamshire Community Foundation and Nottingham City Homes. Our next challenge is to find new volunteers to help our services to evolve further!

Find out more on the Sycamore Dining website.