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Volunteer Blog - A Really Cool Idea: Armley's Community Fridge

Updated: 6 days ago

Volunteering is absolutely fundamental to the work of Climate Action Leeds, and people who have given time to the partnership are often best placed to tell stories of success, too.

Below, volunteer Bethany has written about a superb initiative which tackles food waste and social justice issues at the same time.

My name is Bethany Korynek and I’m a member of Climate Action Armley. I have been part of starting Armley’s first community fridge thanks to other members, their support, and funding we’ve been kindly provided by Climate Action Leeds and Armley Action Team.

Our community fridge opened in the summer of 2023 and by March 2024 we’d saved over 4,000kg of food, enabling members of the community to collect it for no charge.

We receive donations of surplus food from members of the community and local businesses. Sometimes this food is past its best-before date pr very near to it, sometimes it's just completely surplus to needs.

My hope is that this fridge is only the pilot for a larger network of community fridges. Ideally the next one would be outdoors and accessible 24 hours a day.

One of my favourite times of the year is August Bank Holiday weekend, when after Leeds Festival myself and other volunteers from across Yorkshire assist with collecting items that campers leave behind. When I first attended in 2022 I was shocked at just how much space we needed to cover, how much was left behind, and how little time we were given. Anything we did not take was taken to incineration or landfill.

In 2023 I gathered nine people and we rescued 145kg of food, drinks, and hygiene products. We were able to donate the food and non-alcoholic drinks to our community fridge and the community pantry Armley Action Team operates in the same space.

While [the level of waste] is tragic and not representative of how young people feel about our environment, Leeds Fest has supplied food, tents, bedding, clothing, and hygiene products to people who need them and brought together people for a great cause.

I recently spoke about our work against food waste at an event called We Need To Talk, put together by Tippin’ Point International. The event was created to foster conversations about the climate crisis. It was a wonderful opportunity to not only share what we are doing but to also hear what other groups are focusing on. I would never have been invited to get involved had it not been for Climate Action Armley and I am grateful for that!

Climate Action Armley has fed, educated, and encouraged people that they can do something about the climate crisis. And this is only the beginning! Imagine what more we can do in the future - I can’t wait.


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