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Second Helpings in Stamford wins Best Social Enterprise at the Mercury Business Awards

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A group of devoted volunteers who have prevented 87,000kg of food going to landfill have received an award.

Second Helpings in Stamford won Best Social Enterprise at the Mercury Business Awards. It is the second time it has won the award, having previously received it in 2018.

The group collects food which is destined for the bin and distributes it to the public on a pay-as-you-feel basis through its community fridge. Before the pandemic a weekly café was also held and this has now been converted to takeaways including a care package of up to five meals a week for the most vulnerable.

The Second Helpings team
The Second Helpings team

Caroline La Niece, head of communications at Second Helpings, said: “It’s hugely motivating for the volunteers.

“The third national lockdown has made it all the more challenging.

“We are arranging the bunker to make sure it’s safe.

“We’ve seen an uplift of people like the first lockdown and numbers have increased when we are open with lots of families.”

In the past year, people have passed through the doors of the Bunker more than 14,000 times with volunteers having a significant impact on their lives.

Volunteers found out about their win through the Mercury, on social media and in a write-up in the Second Helpings newsletter.

Caroline said: “Everyone involved is pleased.

“There’s some people who haven’t been so involved because of Government guidelines but it does mean a huge amount for everyone.”

The category was judged by Janet Meenaghan, the principal of Stamford College which sponsored the award.

Janet said judging was a “near impossible task with three hugely impressive and exceptionally deserving finalists”.

She said: “With so much of its activity based on face-to-face contact, Covid-19 presented huge challenges for Second Helpings. But the charity recognised it had a particular role in supporting Stamford through lockdown - quickly developing new safe ways of working, targeting its resources to food collection and distribution within the community, providing a friendly face for those in isolation through its army of volunteers, and connecting with a host of other local services to ensure the most vulnerable in our area continued to be supported.”

Janet also recognised that Second Helpings had worked in partnership with other groups including Support Our Stamford and the Evergreen Care Trust.

Janet added: “Second Helpings has been able, against the odds, to extend its reach and continue to grow.

“The charity is our deserving winner this year because of its fantastic social, environmental and community agenda, and its fleet of foot response to the pandemic.”

Evergreen Care Trust in Stamford and St Barnabas Lincolnshire Hospice were also awarded highly commended.

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