A CHARITY which simultaneously supports people facing crises while helping reduce food waste is moving into a former supermarket unit in Andover town centre.

Connect Aid, a national charity based in Shropshire, which responds to crisis situations in the UK and overseas, has taken over the building previously home to Sainsburys on Bridge Street.

Connect Aid is a humanitarian aid project, which “taps into the surplus food market” in order to react to humanitarian crises.

As well as responding to situations overseas, the team is always keen to assist in the communities where they are based, by connecting with local organisations, and supporting people in need in the towns or cities.

The charity has set up a Save It Discount Store in Andover, where surplus food is collected, and then either redistributed, or sold to the general public at a cut price to raise funds.

Lea Beven, the founder of and “driving force” behind the charity, said: “Some of it is donated to us, and some of it we will source. Some will go to international crises, if it can, and some of it will go to the local foodbank.

“Any waste warriors are welcome, or anyone who is on a budget. Anyone who shops here is supporting what we do.”

So far, the charity has sent 800 pallets of aid out to Ukraine.

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At the moment, the charity’s hubs house around 100 tonnes of food, but Lea estimates that at the new Andover site the team will soon reach 200 tonnes.

“One of the things we do is we find property for our charities, but with the recent crisis situation for Ukraine, we have needed premises for ourselves, because we have also been supporting a lot of the refugee families,” she said.

“This one was fantastic - it’s the first one we have been offered with shelves!”

Connect Aid got the keys for the unit last week, and hope to be open by Friday, July 1.

Lea says she is “desperate” for local volunteers, as the organisation is currently having to bring people down from Shropshire. Roles include till operators, shelf stackers, drivers, cleaners and fundraisers.

She added: “We have lots of space that we can share with other groups. We love working with other organisations, we are enablers.”

Connect Aid is also keen to hear from anyone who may know of potential sources of surplus food. The store is able to sell things other shops cannot, such as things slightly past its best before date, or that have been mislabelled.

Lea continued: “A lot of people, when we say we do international stuff tell us that aid should start at home. But we are already doing that! The concept of a food shop being a charity shop seems bizarre to people, but that’s exactly what we are.”

The team hopes to host an open evening on Wednesday, June 29 at the Bridge Street Unit. so individuals and organisations can have a look around and ask questions.

For more information and updates, visit: facebook.com/saveitandover.

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