How The Felix Project transformed a volunteering day into an entrepreneurs’ masterclass!
It’s a sunny July morning, and I’m standing in Regent’s Park – pulling on my new, green Felix Project T shirt, and listening to the briefing for the day ahead. We’re a team of three from Lansons – Louise Gardiner-Hill, Megan Sunderland and Adam Baines – joining a cohort of volunteers who’ll support The Felix Project at the Taste of London food festival.
Ten hours later, as we clock-off, The Felix Project will have re-set the bar for me on just how effective, entrepreneurial and connected an organisation can be.
The first clue is in our volunteering assignments. Working with partners as varied as the Celebrity Cookery School and gourmet BBQ-outfit The Firepit, The Felix Project are networked across the festival with different food businesses who can work with them. The Firepit, for example, had donated and cooked enough meat to make 6,000 meals for the Felix Project earlier in the week – so a bunch of volunteers are paying back the favour by joining The Firepit as a BBQ SWAT team. Simple, and effective.
It’s a microcosm of The Felix Project’s brilliantly simple, effective vision. “Right now,” it reads on their homepage, “millions of people in the UK regularly experience hunger. Yet tonnes of surplus fresh food is thrown away every day. Inspired by Felix, we set out to change this.” In just 31 words, The Felix Project have nailed their ‘Why’, and energised countless people inside and outside the organisation. The charity take an important, contemporary model – the circular economy – and use surplus food to feed hungry people.
The results are extraordinary. In 2020, The Felix Project rescued enough food to make 21.1m meals. By 2024, the charity plans to deliver 100m meals. How many organisations are targeting 500% growth in their Five Year plan?
The crowds at Taste of London start to arrive, and I’m seconded to the Cookery School. By a happy twist of fate, the host for the sessions is celebrity chef is Asma Khan, whose cooking I’ve enjoyed since the first pop-up supper clubs in her London home. Asma inspires the sold-out crowd with her paneer korma, and with her powerful story of leading an all-female team in a male-dominated industry.
As the day continues – and as the Lansons team chat with volunteers from other companies – it becomes clear that in just five years since launch, The Felix Project has built relationships with some of the UK’s biggest and coolest companies. The networking skills are impressive.
As is the comms follow-up after the festival. In their email to all 131 volunteers, The Felix Project thank the team for 1.2k hours worked, for the thousands of meals sold and £17k raised. Due to their hugely efficient model, £17k enables The Felix Project to deliver 103k meals!
Looking ahead, the future of The Felix Project looks even more entrepreneurial. Having set up a kitchen during the pandemic to help furloughed chefs in London cook for people in need, the charity is now looking to staff that kitchen with volunteers. And beyond catering, they offer a spectrum of volunteering opportunities – including taking part in ‘gleans’… harvesting on farms in the home counties, with friends and family!
In the space of one day, The Felix Project redefined for me what a truly effective, entrepreneurial organisation can achieve.
As we hand back our green T-shirts – to be washed and given to the next crew of volunteers – Louise Bingham, who’s managed our whole volunteering experience with The Felix Project, gives us a practical insight into the circular economy. As the 10-day festival ends, she explains, the charity will receive all surplus food from outlets across the event, and make sure nothing is wasted.
It gives you hope.
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