Letchworth couple’s ‘big blue gazebo’ helps feed the community during lockdown

PUBLISHED: 12:58 19 June 2020

Daniel and Amy Allen are the architects behind Letchworth's original 'big blue gazebo.' Picture: Supplied

Daniel and Amy Allen are the architects behind Letchworth's original 'big blue gazebo.' Picture: Supplied

Archant

A Letchworth councillor has been spending lockdown serving food from outside his front door – underneath what has become popularly known in the community as the ‘big blue gazebo.’

The couple stock everything from fruit & veg, to bread and non-perishables. Picture: SuppliedThe couple stock everything from fruit & veg, to bread and non-perishables. Picture: Supplied

Letchworth district councillor Daniel Allen and his wife Amy Allen were lent the gazebo by Extinction Rebellion North Herts – and it has been pitched outside their home on Warren Close every day during lockdown.

Daniel and Amy say they have been “constantly busy,” and see on average 30 households a day visiting the gazebo to pick up leftover food.

“When all this started, we spoke to the people at Best Before and couple of other charities,” Daniel said.

“We get our food donations from Morrison’s and Lidl, and some other independents, and people can just come and take whatever they need.”
Such has been the success of the project, three other big blue gazebos have now been erected in Letchworth – on the Grange, Campers Road, and Glebe Road.

Povery charity Feed Up Warm Up visiting the gazebo. Picture: SuppliedPovery charity Feed Up Warm Up visiting the gazebo. Picture: Supplied

“We pride ourselves on not having any waste going to landfill,” Daniel added. “Anything that is fruit or veg gets turned into jam, and leftover salad-y bits are donated to the local guinea pig sanctuary.”

Amy said they conceived of the idea as a way “to be useful and give back to the community” during the pandemic.

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“I was supposed to be standing in local elections, but when that all stopped I suddenly found myself with a lot of time on my hands – and realised I’d be able to use it to help people,” Amy said.

The gazebo, pictured outside the Allen home on Warren Close. Picture: SuppliedThe gazebo, pictured outside the Allen home on Warren Close. Picture: Supplied

“Food banks and poverty prevention has always been a key part of the work I do.

“I think the gazebo has provided a fantastic community hub. It has brought a lot of our neighbours closer together, and people are finding out who is shielding and in the most need.

“We’re just happy to be useful during a time when so many are struggling.”

Daniel is also working with Morrison’s helping taking deliveries to the Need Project, Feed Up Warm Up and other charities.

With the Best Before Cafe once again reopen on Wednesday’s, Daniel and Amy have said the gazebo will now be pitched from Friday to Sunday.

“We’ve been unbelievably lucky with the weather – and we’ve only lost the gazebo down the street once!”

You can find the #BigBlueGazebo hashtag on social media for more information.


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