Pledge 35 – First pledgers make impact at local food charities

Pledge 35 was launched in mid-September to give supporters an opportunity to get involved in the work of Project 35 by committing 35 hours to support local initiatives such as delivering food hampers, supporting food collections, and giving support to local charities. The response from the Argyle community has been overwhelming, with over 200 sign-ups to-date – and counting.

Project 35 – run in partnership with Ginsters – has already had a profound impact on local communities, delivering tens of thousands of lunches, including Ginsters products, to those identified as most in need, and thousands of school children participating in free sports, health, and wellbeing sessions. New initiatives are being launched every week with an emphasis on supporting those most in need during the cost-of-living crisis and creating long-term behaviour change in the fight against poverty.

The Argyle Community Trust has been working hard to conduct research and gain insight and feedback from its partner network to identify how Pledge 35 hours can be best utilised. The aim is to support local charities and supercharge the efforts of existing organisations at the forefront of tackling poverty in the communities of Devon and Cornwall.

The first wave of pledgers was recently inducted at an event held at Manadon Sports and Community Hub, the home of the Argyle Community Trust. The volunteers were introduced to Pledge 35, the types of projects they could get involved in, and the impact their amazing commitment can have on local communities and charities. They were also presented with their special Pledge 35 t-shirts – a small token of our gratitude for their selfless efforts.

One of the friends of Project 35, and a beneficiary of the Pledge 35 volunteering scheme, is FareShare South West. As the region’s largest food distribution charity, FareShare South West relies  on volunteers to support their vital operation. With the need for services such as these increasing due to the cost-of-living crisis, volunteers are needed now more than ever. Many volunteers who worked during the the pandemic have since returned to work causing an unprecedented national shortage.

The Trust were keen to help, and eight staff members recently attended a FareShare induction, spending the morning picking and packing, delivering, and offering maintenance support to the Plymouth depot.

With the first wave of pledgers keen to get started, many have been inducted with FareShare and are working with their amazing team to deliver essential items to charities across their network.

Head of Region for Devon and Cornwall at FareShare South West, Shelley Wright, explains: “We are a surplus food charity who take vital produce from the wholesale level of the supply chain and redistribute it to frontline charities.

“We support a broad range of charities from local community centres to supported housing schemes and schools from Tewkesbury all the way down to Penzance.”

Rachel Connett, Volunteer Co-ordinator for FareShare South West, has expressed her gratitude for the support from the Argyle family at a busy time operationally: “Volunteers are the lifeblood of FareShare. Without them we just can’t do what we do so they are extremely important.

“The Pledge 35 volunteers have had a tremendous impact on our operation. Some days we have been at 50% capacity but since the pledgers have come in we have been fully manned, meaning we can fulfil orders to our 350 charities that we support across the region. We can also think about onboarding new charities as we have 400 charities on our waiting list at present. With the help of more volunteers, we have more people able to do the work.

“The impact has been extraordinary.”

Argyle Community Trust Business and Impact Manager Dwain Morgan adds: “We need the Green Army. We need our fans. We need our partners and supporters, both commercial partners and local community partners. In order to have a significant impact on reducing poverty and drive social change, we need people power.

“Pledge 35 is our call to action, our social action initiative that sits within Project 35. We’re trying to rally the troops; we’re trying to rally our season ticket holders and all Argyle fans. We’re trying to rally our local communities that’s across Devon, Cornwall, and Plymouth to make a commitment to Project 35. We’re asking people to pledge 35 hours to come in to support the club in activities around food poverty, child poverty, and fuel poverty.”

For more information on Project 35, click here.

To sign up to Pledge 35, click here.


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