Wigan food project scraps "pay as you feel" model amid cash struggle

Shirley Southworth and Ann Fairhurst, founders of Fur Clemt
Shirley Southworth and Ann Fairhurst, founders of Fur Clemt

A project working to reduce food waste has been forced to scrap its “pay-as-you-feel” model due to the lack of donations.

Fur Clemt previously asked visitors to its cafe on Montrose Avenue, in Kitt Green, to pay what they could or what they felt the food was worth.

But it has now imposed set prices after receiving too few donations for the meals provided, combined with a three-year grant from Wigan Council’s community investment fund coming to an end.

Director Shirley Southworth said: “It costs us £2.50 to make every meal with the overheads we have and at the moment the pay-as-you-feel donations don’t cover it at all.

“Also, volunteers stand there cooking all day and sometimes it’s bit disheartening to find we have £6.85 in the bucket from 40 people eating.

“When we had the funding to back us up it wasn’t an issue, but now it is.”

While some people are happy to pay what they feel the food is worth, she says others take food for free - putting the whole project at risk.

Mrs Southworth said: “We have tried encouraging people to give more but that hasn’t worked, so we have decided to try this and see if this helps.

“If we don’t do this, we might have to close.”

A new menu has been produced with all meals priced at £2.50, other than specials, to cover the cost of making them.

People with less money to spend can choose to order soup and a sandwich for just £1.

A pay-it-forward scheme has been introduced, where people can buy an extra meal for someone who cannot afford the new prices.

It is hoped everyone who visited the cafe will still be able to do so.

But Mrs Southworth pointed out that Fur Clemt is an environmental project, which focuses on using food that would have otherwise gone to landfill, rather than a scheme helping those in poverty.

She said: “I’m hoping the pay-it-forward scheme will help. I hope people take it in the spirit that we are doing it. We are not trying to exclude anyone from it.

“If someone says they are hungry and have no money, we will not turn them away, but we might ask them to wash the dishes or sweep the floor instead. There’s always ways to pay if you don’t have any cash.

“But we feel we are seen as a soup kitchen and we are not a soup kitchen. We are a project to help reduce food waste and to do that we need funds.”