Hello from Co-operation Birmingham crew – we wanted to write to thank everyone who has donated to our fundraiser so far and to share updates on our current situation, plans and how to get involved.
At the time of writing we have raised over £3700 in just under five days. This is an incredible achievement and shows that people are interested and inspired by the project.
As we continue we want to be as transparent as possible about what we are doing and why and encourage wider participation. As we have explained, the plan for our initial project is to use the Warehouse Cafe as a solidarity kitchen where volunteers can prepare meals under supervision of trained chefs and then deliver them to people in the community who are self-isolating or social distancing or even just in need of a good hot meal!
We wanted to use this as a way to promote social distancing as a tactic to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. This is a mutual aid project and we invite other community groups and co-operatives to work with us to fill different needs. We have already had a generous food donation from The Real Junk Food Project who are a pay-as-you-feel group of cafes around the city, using food donated by supermarkets and other food producers to make meals for the community.
There is much that needs to be done to realise our vision and we have been working hard on it the past few days. However, we have run into some issues as some friends/close contacts of ours have come down with symptoms of coronavirus. We cannot confirm these cases because the government is refusing to provide an adequate testing service even for front-line healthcare professionals.
This makes it hard to know for definite if we do have the virus but we are being as precautions as possible. However, we are still discussing and working on the original proposed project and putting things in place for the point when we can go ahead. We have decided to postpone any major operations until next week when things will become clearer. Of course, if we cannot go ahead with our original proposal we will redistribute what money we have raised to another worthy cause.
If the project goes ahead we want to be transparent about our finances and where the money is being spent. There will be costs incurred such as the ingredients themselves (though we hope to mitigate this with food donations), the cost of fuel and energy to do delivery, labour costs for our workers, rent money for the space (the cafe rent their space currently), cleaning products and things like gloves, containers to transport food etc.
We want to involve all those who join Cooperation Birmingham to be involved in deciding how we spend the money and all those who contributed money to see how it is spent. We are also working on clear health and safety/safeguarding guidelines and precautions we would expect those who volunteer to cook and deliver food to follow.
We have produced a diagram of how we envisage the project working and how different groups/people will be involved.
As can be seen here Cooperation Birmingham can draw membership from both existing cooperatives, organisations, and any individual member of the public who wants to be involved. Cooperation Birmingham is something we hope to expand on in future but for now our initial project is the solidarity kitchen delivery service in aid of the crisis created by coronavirus.
We have already been asking the public for donations for the project and this is how we plan to continue to fund the project for the most part (as well as with material/non-financial donations). Of course, the most obvious expense for us is food/ingredients and other costs mentioned above.
We would also receive food either from suppliers or other organisations. The deliveries of the food produced at the solidarity kitchen will go to those in self-isolation or who are social distancing and/or are vulnerable in other ways. We chose not to have a strict criteria on this and will not be asking for payments directly from those receiving food. We hope this makes our structure and plan a bit clearer.
In that vein, we would love people with expertise, experience and enthusiasm in the areas of finances, health, administration, social media/promotion, food prep/cooking, cleaning, volunteer coordination and any other relevant skills to get in touch if they’d like to be involved.
We want to have another meeting to discuss the project soon via a free video conferencing platform called Jitsi Meet.
Our next meeting is scheduled for 5pm Friday and will happen online – details will be shared on the forum – if you want to get involved attending this meeting would be a great start.
Stay safe friends!