Jo Wedderspoon_2

Joanne Wedderspoon

Development Manager

Charities Aid Foundation


Social investment for electric vehicles to distribute food to the most vulnerable during lockdown

15 September 2020

Regional area:             Milton Keynes / UK wide
Sectors:                        Environment / Communities
Social investment:      £140,000 unsecured loan
Purpose:                      To develop an eco-friendly solution to support food delivery to vulnerable people 
SDGs:                            We believe the organisation contributes to the
                                      UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to improve food security, climate                                                            resilience and decrease poverty.

Hubbub is an award winning charity that inspires ways of living that are good for the environment. Hubbub designs campaigns that make environmental action desirable; disrupting the status quo to raise awareness, nudge behaviours and shape systems.

CAF Venturesome has a strong relationship with Hubbub as we have provided them with social investment since 2015 in the form of unsecured loans and standby facilities.  Their successful growth has meant that they have been able to achieve a high social impact, whilst generating healthy surpluses allowing them to repay and recycle their three previous social investments with CAF Venturesome.

A project accelerated because of COVID-19

In early 2020 Hubbub planned to trial and develop a new low carbon, community-based ‘last mile’ delivery service called Food Connect to deliver surplus food and other essential supplies to vulnerable people in Milton Keynes via the existing Community Fridge Network.  Their plans were accelerated due to COVID-19 but the corporate funding promised to them was withdrawn. 

Whilst community fridges are open to everyone and have become hubs for sharing food education, skills, knowledge and goods, they have had to adapt to the challenges of COVID-19 and social-distancing. Many have now temporarily switched to new operations, including delivering surplus food to the doors of the most vulnerable households in their area.  

Social investment used to top-up grant funding

Hubbub quickly turned to CAF Venturesome for a £140,000 unsecured loan to top-up grant funding, from The National Lottery Community Fund, and Milton Keynes Council through the eCargo Bike Grant Fund, to buy a fleet of e-bikes and lease an electric van.  The loan was approved in April and drew down immediately to ensure that the electric vehicles were ready to distribute fresh food that would have otherwise gone to waste to vulnerable households across the town. 

Delivering food parcels on an electric bike

Helping the most vulnerable during lockdown

By collaborating with parish councils, Care MK, Age UK, MK Council, the NHS and local residents the team was able to identify who needed help and where they were.

During 16 weeks the team delivered more than 2,000 food parcels, diverted more than 21 tonnes of food from landfill and saved over 1,700 food miles. Doorstep visits offered a lifeline to many isolated people and shared the message that they are not alone and that there are people willing to help and who care. The volunteer team learned new skills, forged new friendships, showed resilience, spread kindness and were 100% dedicated to ensuring that residents had the food they needed and a friendly person to talk to on their doorstep.

“By having the weekly deliveries it really did help fill out food cupboards and was a nice surprise to see what was in our boxes, it was something to look forward to especially if there were treats. It was also so very nice to have such wonderful people deliver the food parcels. Every single one of them has been so friendly and has given up time to have a chat.” - Pearl

Still supporting communities and the environment post lockdown

As Food Connect emerges from lockdown, the team continues to support parish councils with food parcel deliveries to shielding homes using the e-cargo bikes and volunteer riders. The e-van visits food retailers to supply four newly reopened community fridges that offer a safe hub for people to visit and share surplus food. Hubbub are now recruiting paid riders and drivers and are entering the next phase of further increasing the yield of food saved from landfill and supporting local communities to access food, stay safe and remain local.

Food Connect recently featured on BBC Look East; to watch the video please click HERE.

We would also like to congratulate Hubbub on their 100th Community Fridge, which was opened by HRH The Prince of Wales in September.

“The COVID-19 pandemic required Hubbub to develop a completely new service taking food that would have been wasted to isolated households. We knew that CAF Venturesome would respond rapidly and thoughtfully to our request for support.  We were not disappointed; the CAF Venturesome team reacted quickly and challenged us to create an approach that would have a long-term impact.  Thanks to their social investment, Food Connect is supporting vulnerable households in Milton Keynes with an ambition to spread to other communities”.

– Trewin Restorick, Founder & CEO, Hubbub UK

CAF Venturesome is dedicated to providing social enterprises and charities with the affordable, flexible finance they need to stabilise and grow their social impact during this very uncertain time. We reiterate our promise to do all that we can to support high-impact social organisations. 
Talk to our team on 03000 123 300 or email us at and we’ll be happy to help.