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On 11th October last year, a number of our Chestnut team embarked on the epic 500km cycle ride around all of our pubs to continue important fundraising efforts for The Giving Tree. We chose to support Norfolk Community Foundation and their initiative, Nourishing Norfolk, which aims to feed Norfolk’s future by helping to combat food insecurity and ensure that no-one goes hungry. The initiative was set up in 2020 as a response to increased demand for food services during the pandemic. And, we are thrilled to announce that we raised over £21000 in total.

Ben, our Operations Managers and core safari cyclist, and Tori, Head of Marketing, journeyed to see just one of the 15 affordable food hubs where the money is being spent and to handover the cheque!

9.7million people are in food poverty; double on last year. We are hoping to help combat it.

Norfolk Community Foundation supports 12,500 people through the 15 food hubs in the Nourishing Norfolk Network across Norfolk, including the Burrell Shop in the Charles Burrell Centre in Thetford, which is on IMD Level 2, meaning it is in the bottom 10% of deprived areas in the country. By making links with food producers and national distributors, the Foundation was able to set up East Anglia’s first social supermarket, The Burrell Shop in Thetford, in 2020. The Shop now has over 500 households signed up, supporting over 2,000 local people.


The Burrell Shop is just one of the amazing projects in the Charles Burrell Centre. The centre includes 55 tenants, from small businesses to traders and charities, forest schools and cheerleading classes to a Polish language school. With a family relationship between team members and the community, the centre helps provide nutritional food and social interaction to the people who need it most.

Judy, from Nourishing Norfolk says, “[there’s] trust, dignity and no judgement” working with the community at the centre, “and the other thing I love is it is so collaborative”. An example of this is the training kitchen at the centre. Used to train for domestic cookery, it assists the local primary school who can not afford a school kitchen. This is most helpful to the children whose parents are on shift work so meals aren’t made or eaten at the traditional times nor in the conventional way. Not only helping the local school, it caters for community dinners too; they recently hosted a vegan menu with over 80 people joining and they cleared their plates!

Unfortunately, social isolation is one problem, amongst many others, for a lot of people. Not only does Nourishing Norfolk’s social supermarket assist with affordability, it also creates a social space for the community. Encouraging people to come face-to-face with others and have more daily interactions which has been very difficult after the Covid-19 Pandemic.

Partnerships with larger businesses is key for the survival of charities like this. Nik, from the Charles Burrell Centre highlights that the community “have been living with financial challenges for some time… this is not new… this is not short term”. It is about providing nutritional food, teaching families how to cook and encouraging food producers to work with charities on their doorstep.

“This is not about free stuff”, Nick adds, there is so much more strategy around it than that.


Food poverty is not just a problem in built-up areas like Thetford, however. 60% of people in Norfolk live rurally and this setting poses different challenges that require creative solutions. In more isolated communities, shops are less common and people on the breadline can struggle to get affordable groceries – especially if they can’t drive. In Breckland, charity Kickstart operates an innovative solution to get food and support to people living off the beaten track. The Breckland Mobile Food Store is an ex-library bus that brings an affordable shop to local communities. Nourishing Norfolk funding helps to staff the bus with expert support workers to connect people to welfare support and also helps to maintain the bus through a partnership with local firm Norse Group.

“We don’t drive and live rurally, the local shop continuously puts up its prices and we simply could not afford to buy food from there. Without this scheme we would not eat.” – Member of the Breckland Mobile Food Store

Since our charity cycle ride, the money we have raised has been used to help Nourishing Norfolk with their ongoing projects. Norfolk Community Foundation has now got a central distribution hub to help their 15 Nourishing Norfolk food hubs. The next step for the charity is to create digital inclusion, with the help of IT brands and specialists, job assistance and banking.

We were thrilled to be able to raise money for this fantastic charity and hope that The Giving Tree can help similar communities in the new year too.

Read more about the Cycle Safari by clicking here.

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