Volunteers help residents with the cost of living

Posted by: Belinda Hargreaves

Fri 15th December 2023

Volunteers at a community initiative in Derbyshire are continuing to help residents in need with the cost of living.
Oscari is a scheme which is run from the Church Of Christ, Colledge Street, Riddings. It offers a multitude of help and support including a community pantry where residents in need can purchase food and other products at very discounted rates. The initiative also runs craft sessions and a foodbank.
Leading the volunteer team at Oscari is Tracy Gibson. She told the Spirit of Alfreton: “Oscari was formed in January 2016 set up initially as a craft group for the community to come along to.
“By 2018 we not only had a craft group but also set up a very successful community cafe and children’s youth group.
“We were holding regular quiz nights and the community engagement was incredible.
“For three years in a row we opened up the building on Christmas Day and cooked a full three-course Christmas meal with presents for everyone on a ‘pay as you can’ basis.
“We saw 50 families come and eat with us and also gave out over 200 presents to children who otherwise would have gone without.”
Tracy continued: “The pandemic hit Oscari hard and we had to ask our amazing volunteers to stay at home as it was for their safety and ours as well.
“During the pandemic there were three volunteers who kept Oscari running but we had to do things a different way.
“We cooked a massive 180,000 meals and delivered them to the residents of Amber Valley totalling 3,000 miles during the first year of lockdown.
“In January of 2022, Oscari reformed with a new team of volunteers, including two of the original members and have been rebuilding Oscari from the ground up.
“Through January until April the whole team worked on fundraising, cleaning and clearing the building and making mew connections with people.
“We successfully set up a community pantry, where shoppers pay an initial fee of £15 and just £7.50 per week to shop thereafter.
“The food shop includes your cupboard staples, fresh fruit and vegetables, toiletries, sanitary wear, fridge and freezer foods.
“The total value of food that each shopper gets is anywhere between £50 and £100.
“Alongside this we have Citizens Advice visiting every Tuesday from 10am until 1pm.”
Tracy added: “Of course at the heart of it all, we are here for the community and still have our food bank. This operates on an appointment basis, to give each customer privacy and dignity.”
The team at Oscari will, once again, be offering a special Christmas Food Giveaway this festive period.
Tracy explained: “On Christmas Eve at 7pm we shall be opening the doors for our grand food giveaway, we are collecting from several different supermarkets.
“Last year we gave out over £8,000 worth of food to people.
“All we ask is that they queue patiently, respect the houses around us and be patient with all our volunteers.”
Tracy added: “We shall also have Santa Claus giving out presents to children who come along.”
To find out more about Oscari and what they offer, go to here

Pictured is last year’s Christmas Giveaway event by Oscari.

Are you going above and beyond to spread festive cheer in your community this Christmas? Email our Editor Belinda at editor@spiritof.uk, or upload your story direct to our website here