A remarkable initiative has been silently addressing the imperative issues of food security and community support within the Sutton borough. Sutton Community Project, born out of the challenges that were posed due to COVID-19, has evolved into a ray of hope for the residents who have been facing economic stress.

As highlighted by Sutton’s Strategic Needs assessment, an astonishing estimated 18% of Sutton residents live in poverty and that has risen to 25% of children in the borough. Many surplus foods that are sold by supermarkets are regularly going to waste, and inevitably landfill. With the drive to make a difference, the project has become a vital food and community hub that aims to reduce food waste and poverty whilst bringing individuals together. 

The project had begun as a humble endeavor, with Andrew Ritchie and his wife Sayuri collecting unsold surplus food and listing them on OLIO as well as selling them to neighbours during the pandemic. This has blossomed into a non-profit outreach programme providing help to wider communities at the Thomas Wall Centre. This village hall acts as a safe space, with free teas and coffees being provided to help foster a sense of belonging for many. 

Weekly food boxes are distributed with fresh produce donated by the Felix Project, local stores, supermarkets, and people- illustrating the collective spirit that orchestrates the enterprise. Volunteers have frequently provided vital help to the scheme, with them contributing to administration, food collections and morning/afternoon set-ups to ensure the food boxes are provided with hygiene. These volunteers have helped to encourage sociability for individuals, with satisfaction ratings being over 96%. 

Beyond the food support, Sutton Community Project extends its reach with a knitting group offered every Tuesday at 3.30 pm and a cafe area open every day from 2-6 pm to aid mental relaxation and emotional wellbeing. The project also collaborates with Christians Against Poverty, offering professional help and advice on the first Tuesday of every month at 2 pm onwards- this can vary from financial advice to life skill groups. 

An anonymous receiver of the food boxes stated that “gratitude filled my heart when I collected it, I felt the love and compassion from the community”. So, although the course of life is difficult for many, this organisation ensures an environmentally friendly way of living whilst helping many to overcome the various barriers they face. Sutton Community Project addresses residents' immediate needs whilst creating a supportive environment in the face of hardships, and there is a plethora of ways to contribute too. This can vary from food donations, organising fundraising events and donating to the cause on GoFundMe which can be found on their website here: https://www.suttoncommunityproject.com/donate/.