Botley community fridge becomes one of Oxford’s three formal food parcel delivery hubs

From Monday 19 May, the Botley community fridge has become one of Oxford’s three formal food parcel delivery hubs, serving OX1 and OX2. That has meant some restructuring, with our OX3 and OX4 recipients going to the Rose Hill hub; and Rose Hill’s OX1 and OX2 recipients coming to us. We’ve lost about 40 households, including some large families, and have gained about 50 households, many single-person.

The packers and drivers are missing ‘their’ OX3 and OX4 families, but it means that delivery rounds will be much more efficient, saving time and fuel.

We have been providing a more comprehensive service than the other hubs, with additional food on Thursdays; and the Monday run of nappies, milk and extra food for large families. To help make up for this, we have donated about £1100 worth of nappies to the Rose Hill hub, which will hopefully keep on distributing to our formal recipients.


The Oxford Food Bank is partly reopening.  They are reclaiming the Monday, Wednesday and Friday slots at Aldi and Waitrose, which we have been using to get food.  I think that the Oxford Food Bank does great work, but this is a blow to us.

We’ve managed to add one weekend day to each of the stores, so our supplies are ‘only’ but by two days.  And we are still getting food from the big Tesco on Magdalen Street and the Tesco Metro at West Way.  If we need to, we can resume picking up at the Westgate Sainsbury’s and/or the ring road Tesco.  However both are further away than the nicely located Aldi and Waitrose.

Layla Moran press release

Layla Moran visits Botley Community Fridge to “celebrate everything they’re doing” and lends a helping hand

Layla Moran, Lib Dem MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, visited the Botley Community Fridge in Seacourt Hall earlier today to “celebrate everything they’re doing” and helped pack and deliver food parcels to the self-isolating and vulnerable.

Layla said the community fridge is an “incredible service to the community during coronavirus”, noting that even though the physical fridge was closed that hadn’t stopped organisers from doing their bit to help those in need.

The MP visited to find out more about the work the community fridge was doing during the pandemic, and to ask them what further support they need.

Everyone kept 2 metres apart during the visit at all times. The community fridge takes food donations from local supermarkets, which are then packaged and driven to people who have requested help.

Commenting, Layla said:

“It was my pleasure to visit the Botley Community Fridge today, lend a hand and celebrate everything they’re doing for those in need.

“This lockdown is such an isolating experience, and it’s fantastic to know that our community is still going despite all that.

“Even though the fridge itself is obviously closed at the moment, that hasn’t stopped its organisers and volunteers from providing an incredible service to the community during coronavirus.

“I just want to say a massive thank you to everyone working hard to get food to the self-isolating and the vulnerable — you’re superstars.”

Botley Community Fridge organiser Riki Therivel said:

“It’s wonderful how the west Oxford community has come together to provide food parcels to people in need or who are self-isolating. The parcels are going all over Oxford and beyond. There’s a real need for them, and we’re pleased to be able to help.”

Delivering to homeless people

Three times per week, Amy and I cycle around the city centre delivering food parcels to homeless people.  Yesterday the parcels contained baked beans, soup, bananas, oranges, bread and sweets.  We also had optional popcorn, fizzy drinks, toilet rolls and toiletry products.  We find that ten parcels per session is just about right.

They are very much appreciated not only by people who are still rough sleeping, but also by people in temporary accommodation who aren’t getting food delivered.  We have also been dropping off fruit – about 60 pieces at a time – at the youth hostel, where a lot of homeless people are currently staying.

Organising the drivers and packers

We have three rotas: drivers who pick up food, packers, and drivers who deliver food.

Silvia organises the pick-up drivers from Tokyo via WhatsApp and email.  We have five drivers who each have one or two days per week when they pick up from Aldi and Waitrose.  That’s the easy one.

Orit organises everyone else through a combination of texts, WhatsApp and email.  There are at least two packers per day (Mon-Sat) and up to three drivers on normal days – and 14 drivers on Thursdays.  Happily we are getting plenty of offers of help, but it is a huge job.


Organising the deliveries

Two weeks ago the Botley community fridge delivered food parcels to 249 people who are in need and/or self-isolating. This past week we delivered to 350 people, including 191 on our first big weekly Thursday delivery. We also delivered about 200 pieces of fruit to the Oxford youth hostel where a lot of homeless people are staying at the moment.  So far, we have 50% more households booked for next Thursday’s weekly delivery than last week’s.

The way the delivery organisation works is:

People request a food parcel via a form that then gets put into a spreadsheet:



Based on this, Rita makes up separate delivery routes, including a logical sequence of deliveries:


The drivers have been finding Rita’s planning really helpful:

“My route worked brilliantly on Thursday, very logical route, thanks Rita”

“I’ve really appreciated the careful way those driver lists are put together so thank you Rita”.


First weekly food deliveries

On 9 April we had our first weekly food delivery: 60 households, 150 parcels, 105 loo rolls courtesy of North Hinksey Parish Council, and 191 Easter eggs (one per person) courtesy of Aldi… plus 20 parcels for the Witney community frige and 20 for the West Oxford community centre… all packed by 5 volunteers and delivered by 14 others.

Each driver got a GDPR form to get permission from food recipients so that we can pass their details on to SOFEA, who provided the bulk of the food parcels.  The form also specified how many SOFEA bags (S), how many Botley bags (B) and how many Easter eggs (one per person).


It all went like clockwork, helped by the fact that the good weather allowed us to do everything outside… except that the Easter eggs started melting in the strong sunshine, so we had to shade them, at times with our bodies, until the drivers could arrive.

We set up one pile for each driver, as shown below.  Next week we’ll experiment with the drivers picking the correct number of SOFEA and Botley parcels (and loo rolls) themselves so that we don’t need to make up the piles for them… unavoidable really with the first delivery, what with Easter eggs etc.

One delivery pile


New temporary premises

The Botley community fridge is in magnificent temporary new premises! Thank you very much to North Hinksey parish council for letting us use Seacourt Hall; Anne at Manna Cafe for hosting us for the past fortnight; Diane at Branches Cafe for letting us use her fridge; SDC for moving the fridge; the Oxford Food Bank and Gatehouse for their surplus food; and the excellent volunteers who helped with the move.

From tomorrow, due to coronavirus rules, we will be a delivery-only service. Please let us know if you or anyone else needs a parcel of fresh food, or non-perishable staples: or 07759 135811.

From tomorrow, we will hopefully be getting surplus fresh food from Aldi and Waitrose. We’re finally getting settled after a manic fortnight. Cross your fingers for no further changes.

Seacourt Hall 2

Food parcels etc.

We’ve received a lot of non-perishables that were left over from the Leys community larder.  Abuot a dozen food parcels have been handed out, either at the virtual fridge events or delivered by volunteers.

People have been responding to Facebook requests.  Yesterday a young family needed size 1 and 5 nappies and baby food, and within hours two people had brought nappies to the virtual fridge.  They will be delivered by another volunteer later today.

It’s lovely to see the community banding together like this.