Volunteer Virtual Hangout – Staying safe online Wednesday 27th May – 7pm

This week we’ll be joined by Paul Mackie, Head of Infosec at Octopus Investments to talk about how to stay safe online. With so many of us spending a lot more time online and using our digital devices more than ever, it can sometimes feel overwhelming knowing how to keep yourself safe. Paul will talk through the following topics and you'll have a chance to ask questions throughout the event, we'll also dedicate some time at the end for any additional questions you might have.

Cyber-crime - “Should I be worried and why?”

Staying safe – “Now I AM worried how can I stay safe?”

What if – “Help I think I’ve been hacked” 



Join us this Wednesday at 7pm when we’ll be joined by personal trainer, nutritional therapist and GoodGym trainer, Jonny Carter.

Jonny will take you through a 20 minute guided workout, nothing too strenuous and he will offer plenty of advice on advancing some of the moves. We’ll then hold a question and answer session around fitness and nutrition. We are limited to 100 places, so register now to avoid disappointment.

The event will take place on zoom, we suggest that you downloaded the phone or desktop app in advance of the session. Lycra and headbands optional!



Following on from our announcement last week we are pleased to announce that this week we will be trialling a delivery service in small number of locations. We hope that in the coming weeks we will be able to roll this out to even more guests and in other parts of the country. We will share an update again next week, with further information.


Projects on Pause

With the responsibility we must all take around social distancing and a large number of our venues being closed, we have made the difficult decision that all FoodCycle Projects will be put on pause for the time being.

This decision has not come lightly, and it has been a very hard one for us to make.  Please be assured that we are doing everything we possibly can to continue to serve our guests but in order for us to do this, we have to make some big operational changes.  We are looking at a number of options, linking up with other organisations and we just need a bit of time to work on this.  We hope to have a new service back up and running as soon as possible, we can’t guarantee a timeframe, but we hope it will be with a few weeks.

The whole nation is facing an extremely difficult time right now and we are very aware that our services are needed more than ever and will continue to be for some time.  We want to ensure that we have a long-term sustainable plan that will continue to support the vulnerable long into the future.

We cannot thank you enough for your enthusiasm and dedication, but we must put the safety of our guests and you, our volunteers first and help stop the spread.

We have tried to answer as many of your questions as we can below but if you have any more please email hello@foodcycle.org.uk 


But the Government has said that Takeaways are fine, why does that not apply to us?

Whilst the Government has said that takeaways are fine, the way that we operate means that it is very difficult for us to fully manage the social distancing aspect amongst our volunteers and guests.  A number of our venues have been told to close, which also means that we don’t have a kitchen to cook in.

How will the guests know about this?

Over the past week we have been collecting guest data and now have a text service that we will be using to contact them and let them know.  We will also use this communication method to let them know when we are back up and running.

But I want to continue to provide food to local people?

There are a number of local and community based projects popping up all over the place, which you are more than welcome to support but it will be on an individual basis and not in association with FoodCycle.

Is there anything else I can do to help?

We are working through a number of plans, options and ideas and we will be sending out a survey and more information on this over the next few days.

How long will you be on pause for?

We are hoping to be back up and running as soon as possible but it is very hard for us to put a time limit on it but we hope it will be within weeks.

UPDATE 20th MARCH 7pm  –

Following today’s announcement we just wanted to confirm that FoodCycle is still operating the new takeaway service as detailed below. FoodCycle staff and volunteers are classified as key workers, as we are a charity that provides a very important service to vulnerable people.

All takeaway sessions put in place will still continue as planned over the coming weeks. A huge big thank you to all of you for helping to deliver a fantastic service in such a challenging environment. For more information on key workers you can visit the government website.


We are continuing to work as hard as we can to keep as many of our Projects running. Due to the current circumstances this is changing on a daily basis. We are keeping our blog as up to date as possible, please refresh the page to make sure you get the most up to date info.

A huge thank you to everyone involved with FoodCycle and all the hard work that is going on behind the scenes and on the front line. We are really proud to be working with such an incredible bunch of dedicated people from our volunteers right through to our corporate partners.

We will be updating information on this page at 10 am and 5 pm every day.



Whilst FoodCycle is serving a takeaway service, it’s extremely important that we provide accurate allergen information for the safety of our guests.

We are in the process of sending allergen-specific stickers to each project, but in the meantime please make sure you are writing on every takeaway box the allergens included in the food inside.

Allergens to be aware of are:

  • Mustard
  • Nuts – please state the name of the nut(s)
  • Sesame
  • Soya
  • Sulphur Dioxide
  • Celery
  • Cereals containing gluten – please state the name of the cereal(s) containing gluten
  • Eggs
  • Lupin
  • Milk

Please refer to your kitchen handbook or to https://volunteer.foodcycle.org.uk/foodallergensdocuments for more information.

UPDATE 18th MARCH - 5pm

Sadly more Projects have been put on hold for a number of reasons, we are still continuing to work as hard as we can to keep as many running as possible and looking at any other options.  For our latest service update visit our blog (this is updated in real time). 
We also launched our emergency fundraising appeal today.


In the interests of both our guests and volunteer's health and safety, going forward all FoodCycle projects will be offering a takeaway service and will stop serving the community meal until further notice. We will be working as hard as we can to try and resume our normal service as soon as possible.

Your Project Leaders have been sent full guidance on how to move to this service and will brief you at the start of your volunteer shift.

Changes in Hosting roles and shift times

In order to deliver a smooth service to our guests, during this change to service we will be updating our hosting shifts to be slightly shorter, and not requiring as many people to deliver the service.

Hosting duties will now include:

  • ensuring all take away boxes have allergen information

  • welcoming guests by the front doors and explaining the changes

  • managing queues

  • handing out food and ensuring all guests get an even distribution of what is on offer.

Instant reporting and liaising with your Project Leader

In order to offer the best possible service, to reassure guests and volunteers alike, keeping us informed is more essential than ever. Please talk to your Project Leader if you have any queries during a session. You can see a full list of venues and their current service update here.

  • If you are feeling unwell, showing symptoms of Coronavirus or someone in your household is showing symptoms, then please do not volunteer. If you can’t volunteer please make sure you cancel your slot, so we can fill your place. You can find the most up to date information on the NHS 111 website.

  •  If you do volunteer please take extra care when it comes to personal hygiene; washing hands frequently, using hand sanitiser where possible, and catching any coughs and sneezes in and tissue (which you then throw away).

FoodCycle serves many vulnerable people in our community, and our meals are an essential life-line to many who access this. Therefore we are all working hard to offer some type of service. We hugely appreciate your continuing and fantastic support in helping to serve some of the most vulnerable in your community.

Further Guidance We want to ensure the takeaway service we offer goes as smoothly as possible. If you have any further questions about our changes to service as a result of Coronavirus, please contact hello@foodcycle.org.uk We hugely appreciate your continuing and fantastic support in helping to serve some of the most vulnerable in your community.


Q&As Last Updated: 17th March 2020 

Q&A - Coronavirus

These FAQ’s have been put together to cover a range of likely scenarios and questions around the operation of FoodCycle Projects and meals, raised either by volunteers or guests.  If your question hasn’t been answered please contact hello@foodcycle.org.uk and we will try and resolve/answer the question for you.

What plans does FoodCycle have in place?

We are monitoring the situation closely and holding regular meetings to plan and discuss how we will respond, as the situation continues to change.  Going forward all FoodCycle projects will be offering a takeaway service and will stop serving the community meal until further notice. We will be working as hard as we can to try and resume our normal service as soon as possible.

We will continue to provide updates through email and the volunteer portal message if the situation or FoodCycle’s position changes.


What is Coronavirus?

COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It's caused by a virus called Coronavirus.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms include a high temperature and a new, continuous cough.  If you are experiencing any of these symptoms the NHS advise that you stay at home for 7 days. Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital – visit the NHS 111 website.

You can find more information on self-isolation here.

Can I catch Coronavirus from food that has been prepared for me?

Because it's a new illness, we do not know exactly how Coronavirus spreads from person to person.  It's very unlikely it can be spread through things like packages or food.

What do I do if I think I have Coronavirus?

If you have visited an affected area recently or been in close contact with someone confirmed as having Covid-19, and have symptoms consistent with the Coronavirus, please do not attend a FoodCycle meal.  Instead please follow the NHS guidelines.

Who should I contact if I am diagnosed with Coronavirus or have been in contact with someone who has been diagnosed with Coronavirus?

After you have contacted NHS 111 please let your Regional Manager, Line Manger or Project Leader know.

For more information on Coronavirus




Health and Safety

The Government announced that people should not be going to restaurants, surely FoodCycle is in that category?
We have changed our offering so that people can get takeaway meals instead, which is reducing social contact. The advice is also about the length of time that you are in close contact with someone, by changing the service to takeaway there is a significant reduction.

What about people standing in queues?

We will be encouraging guests and volunteers to keep a reasonable amount of distance between each other and space people out as much as possible, to reduce the amount of time that people are in close contact. We will also continue to encourage people to wash hands and/or use hand sanitiser and catch any coughs or sneezes in a tissue (and throw it away).

The Government has advised against unessential travel and social contact, so should we still be volunteering?

We believe that the FoodCycle meals are an essential service to those that are vulnerable in our community and still need a weekly meal. We are doing everything we can to keep the service running whilst protecting the guests and volunteers and have put additional measures in to place, such as moving to a takeaway service to limit social contact.

What about guests that don’t have cooking facilities to re-heat the food?

We are looking at as many options as possible to make sure we can provide food to as many people as possible.

Should I wear latex gloves?

No. The best advice is to wash your hands thoroughly and regularly.

Should I be wearing my hair net?

Always wear a hairnet as no one likes hair in their food.

Should I be wearing a facemask?

There is no need to wear a facemask.

Should I touch guests?

Please try to avoid contact with guests – no hand shaking.

What cleaning equipment do we have /should we have – are you providing additional products and/or equipment?

There is plenty of cleaning equipment in the kitchen. Ensure all surfaces are sanitised before and after your session. If you need to order more, please tell your Project Leader.


I’m not signed up but I want to help, can I just show up?

No, we need all volunteers to be signed up in advance.

I feel unwell should I still volunteer?

No! Please don’t volunteer if you feel unwell and cancel your spot on the system if possible.   Please refer to the Coronavirus section of this Q&A for more information.

I’ve recently travelled back from a holiday abroad – should I still volunteer?

There are different restrictions depending on where you have travelled from, you can find more information on the Government website.

Is there anything else I can do to help, if I can’t volunteer at a Project?

If we have to make changes to our service, we may have some other volunteer roles, we will let all volunteers know if we need additional support.

One of my guests is showing symptoms, what should I do?

Discreetly, inform your Project Leader.


Should I ask guests to wash their hands?

Ideally guests will want to wash their hands – but you cannot make this compulsory.  In opening checks make sure handwashing facilities are in place and purchase liquid soap, if there isn’t any available.

We serve a population of old and vulnerable people, should we not close it down?

People who are old and vulnerable already have their immune systems compromised, hence are very much in need of a good hearty meal, which is why we have moved to a takeaway service.

Venue closure / Project on Pause

Will the Project be closed?

We are constantly reviewing the situation and doing everything we can to make sure that our service continues, as our guests really rely on our food.  We will continue to keep you updated on any changes.

What do I do if the venue closes?

If your venue has chosen to close, FoodCycle will be in touch and will update the volunteer portal.

If it closes, will it be permanent?

No – FoodCycle will work hard to ensure we are back up and running as soon as we possibly can.

I’ve heard someone has coronavirus in my Project? Should we be closing it down?

If you have concerns, please contact head office on hello@foodcycle.org.uk