Community project’s weekly food club proves a hit – and here’s how to get 10 items for £4.50


A community cafe is reopening its doors after a makeover and the success of a weekly food club initiative.

The Green Tree House Food Club & Tea Room, in Biddulph, was set up nearly five years ago by Amanda Beech, who now chairs the project.

When she was diagnosed with a brain tumour, Amanda wanted something to focus on, that would benefit her local community.

But what started as a sociable craft cafe in Biddulph soon expanded, and now the initiative has become a charity that is attracting attention from across North Staffordshire and South Cheshire.

As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the team have now established their food club scheme, an affordable way for families to stock up their cupboards with discounted food obtained from local businesses and supermarkets.

Members of the food club can pay £4.50 for 10 items, double up to £9 for 20 items or triple up to £13.50 for 30 items, enabling them to stock up on essential food and hygiene items for a fraction of the normal cost.

Now, after a little makeover to their HQ, the team have reopened their doors following lockdown, and they’re looking forward to welcoming the community back to the cafe in its traditional sense, with the addition of their tea room.



The Green Tree House Food Club & Tea Room on High Street, Biddulph

Amanda, from Biddulph, said: “Over the years, we have really been able to get to know people, including their lives and their problems. They’re not just customers, they’re part of the family.

“We’ve been able to really help a lot of people in the past, whether that’s getting them into the doctors, or helping them with other personal or social problems.

“We closed on St Patrick’s Day last year due to Covid-19 and straightaway we set up a phone network, where every week we’d be sure to ring round and have a chat with everyone that we’d usually see in the cafe.

“In July, we were able to reopen and we started to get the free food from supermarkets like Tesco, and we started talking to FareShare and the idea for the food club happened.

“In October, we set it up, and we started with 60 members. Now we’ve got 370. We’ve had to expand and move things around quite a lot, because it grew so much.

“The response to it has been lovely and so overwhelming. We’ve had grown men coming in crying because they can finally feed their family – a lot of people are still struggling financially because of the pandemic.



Inside The Green Tree House Food Club & Tea Room

“We’ve built good relationships with organisations and businesses across the area. We started off to just serve Biddulph, but now we get people from Macclesfield, Congleton and lots of areas across Stoke-on-Trent asking for help.

“It’s just sad that we are needed.”

Vice-chair Helen Mavin – who also works full-time as a care worker – added: “It’s even more sad to think of what might happen if we weren’t here. We’ll continue to help for as long as we need to.

“We’ve applied for a stall in Tunstall market, for our food club, which would hopefully give us a wider reach and we’d be able to see a lot of people there who perhaps can’t get to us here, but always say on Facebook that they’d like to visit.

“We’ve had a bit of a makeover over the last week. We’ve built a new counter to help with the food club and we’re hoping to reopen for customers to come in within the next fortnight, when we’re able to.

“We’re hoping for an afternoon tea area, rather than the cafe, so people can come in for a tea, coffee and cake. We’ve missed seeing people, and when we were able to open before Covid, we’d have our regulars and really get to know people.

“A lot of the elderly especially have been really isolated, so we want to get back them back into the community.”

The community hub is linked with FareShare, Period Power, The Hygiene Bank, The Salvation Army and several local shops and supermarkets, to enable them to access products that may otherwise go to waste, and give them to those in need, either for free, or a reduced price.

Treasurer and quarter master Sean Butler-Dodd-Thomson said: “We are still really in demand. A lot of folks have gone back to work, but the impact of the pandemic has affected a lot of people.

“With the food club scheme, people can buy 10 items for £4.50, or they can double or triple shop. We had one lady once with quite a large family, who asked if she could quadruple shop, and of course we said yes. It all depends on individual situations.”

Amanda added: “Moving forward, we’d love more space, and more donations. The food club is going from strength to strength, but there are still lots of people that we haven’t reached yet.

“We have set up with Easy Fundraising, a way for people to pick us as a charity that they can support while they are doing online shopping. It doesn’t cost anything, but if you support us through them, we get some donations. It’s really easy.”

You can keep up with the latest from The Green Tree House Food Club & Tea Room on their Facebook page.

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