Community Fridges allow perishable food that would have been wasted to be shared with local people. We are delighted to announce that grant funding from the Big Lottery will enable us to scale this ambition to 70 Community Fridges over the next three years.

Community Fridges are run by local organisations in a publicly accessible space. They often consist of two fridges and a freezer. One fridge and a freezer take food from retailers for donating to people struggling to pay bills. The other fridge is an honesty fridge open to all members of the public. To-date 20 Community fridges have launched and have proved hugely successfully showing a high degree of honesty and trust within a diverse range of communities.

Our aspiration is that the Community Fridges become the first step towards a community sharing revolution within the UK. If people are willing to share food locally what else might they consider? DIY tools, gardening equipment, electric bikes, skills and knowledge – the potential list is huge. We believe that the time is right to properly explore the potential for community sharing for a number of reasons:

Why it's time to explore more community sharing

The austerity squeeze

In our conversations with households and community organisations it is clear that people already struggling to make ends meet are yet to feel the worst of the austerity cuts. Growing inflation linked to the government’s decision to freeze benefits until 2020 will cost a typical working family around £300 a year. Maintaining current living standards is going to be exceptionally difficult and one route forward might be to increasingly share costs and resources with people in the immediate locality.

Taking back control

The mantra of Brexit was to take back control and this certainly struck a chord with many people increasingly disconnected from those in power. One way that this desire to feel more in control is manifesting itself is that people are increasingly looking to take action at a very local level doing what they can to improve circumstances in their neighbourhood. Community sharing is one way that this desire for hyper-local action can be delivered.

The concept of sharing is increasingly accepted

The growth of companies such as Airbnb show that people are increasingly comfortable with the concept of sharing. To-date the most successful sharing companies have been controlled by a small elite who are seeking to maximise the data they have available for profit. We believe that there must be space for a different model where sharing is owned and managed by communities for local benefit.

Technology makes sharing easier

Technological developments are removing many of the obstacles to sharing. Nissan recently launched a scheme where people can co-own a Nissan Micra. Technology allows the joint owners to easily share the car and provides personalised bills based on usage. Bosch has a range of power tools which enable you to track where they are and when they need maintenance. Community charge points will make it easier for people to share electric bikes reducing travel costs and making cycling more accessible.

We have an environmental imperative to change

Our present levels of personal consumption are not environmentally sustainable and we need to find another model that offers people the same living standards but with less use of resources. Community sharing offers one way forward whilst at the same time strengthening bonds between local communities.

We recognise that such a profound change in the way we organise our daily lives will not happen overnight, but the early successes of the Community Fridges give us hope that significant change is around the corner.