Waitrose donations have gone to feed both the student body and in the wider community through the Archers Project. Hear about University of Sheffield retail staff member Claire Fitzsimmons’ experience volunteering for the Archers Project and providing food for those in need across Sheffield.

In November, Waitrose donated 1,000 packs of 12 sausages to Accommodation and Commercial Services, the majority of which went into Community Fridges in Ranmoor and Endcliffe student halls of residence as part of the University’s commitment to sustainability and reducing food waste. 

But this generous donation didn’t only feed students in the residences, it also helped feed the wider community. Part of the donation was used by Clarie Fitzsimmons, a member of the university retail team, who cooks meals for the homeless through the Archer Project in her spare time – some of you may recognise Claire from Café 1828 in the Medical School! 

Claire began cooking for the homeless a few years ago, preparing and cooking the meals at home, and serving them from stalls in Sheffield City Centre on King Street. The closure of University outlets during the pandemic meant Claire was furloughed, and during this time she offered her services to the Archer Project, helping out in their kitchen a few days a week. 

The pandemic put a stop to serving food from stalls but Claire and her team adapted by going mobile and delivering food, flasks of hot drinks, clothes, sleeping bags and toiletries around the city centre to those in need. 

The Sheffield based Archer Project works with homeless and vulnerable people to help them find ways out of homelessness, with details on how to get involved found here. The Wrap Up Sheffield campaign works in collaboration with the Archer Project to provide warm clothing for those in need – details on how to get involved and make clothing donations can be found on their websites.

The University is incredibly proud of the work Claire has done, and also grateful to Waitrose for their delivery, the Facilities Management team for collecting the sausages and stocking the fridges, and to the Contracts and Sustainability Coordinator Andy Woffindin who worked on installing the Community Fridges in the residences. 

Claire Fitzsimmons, retail team member at the University of Sheffield and Archer Project volunteer said:

“A few years ago I started to cook for the homeless on a Wednesday night, we cooked at home and we served it on stalls that were set up on King St.

“Before lockdown I was introduced to Sarah Barlow who set up SSK (Sheffield Street Kitchen). Again we cooked at home and set up to serve at the bottom of King St in Sheffield 5-7pm on a Saturday evening.

“When Covid hit we had to stop, and then because of social distance measures we could not set up on King St as it attracted too many people..[but] 6 of us …still wanted to feed the homeless so we decided to walk round instead. We had hot boxes and trollies filled with hot food, sandwiches, cakes, crisps, flasks of hot drinks, clothes, sleeping bags, toiletries, and we walked round Sheffield town centre starting off at the cathedral and covered High St, Fargate, Moor, West St.

“We aren’t a registered charity and we fund all our own cooking ourselves. We have an Amazon list and a Facebook page … [where] people can buy things … and have them sent directly.”