We are here to support, promote and develop voluntary and community action in Middlesbrough

What to do with 28,000 sets of plastic cutlery?

I'm usually the first point of contact when people ring MVDA, and sometimes get the most unusual offers and requests for help! This case is a great example of how we're able to step in and help others through our fantastic network. 

Last week we were approached by a former colleague who knew someone who had rather a lot of new unused plastic cutlery sets that he wanted to donate to a good home. We immediately went to Peterlee to have a look at it and decided it was too good of an opportunity for the sector to miss out on. We proceeded to fill a van and an estate car full of not just cutlery, but kids fancy dress, masks, party poppers and more. Whilst we don't condone the use of plastics we would far rather see it get used than go straight into a skip which is where this was heading if not picked up that day.

Through this fantastic donation, we have distributed approximately 28,000 sets of cutlery to groups across the area, such as Church Groups and the Homeless café that feed the homeless.

We were also able to give some of the fancy dress outfits to the local schools and community groups. One of the groups said that they will make good Christmas stocking fillers for disadvantaged children in the area.

Internally we will be using some of the fancy dress masks for craft sessions run by Ruth Barnes on the Step Forward Tees Valley project.

Here are just a few of the comments from grateful recipients:

"I just wanted to say a huge thank you on behalf of The Genesis Project for the generous donation of cutlery. We are working within the Grove Hill community and are weekly feeding around 300 people so this will be so useful to us. Not only will we be offering the cutlery with the meals but also for any of the community to use for their children’s parties etc. We have also decided to keep some aside for a huge celebration meal within the area for when all the restrictions are finally lifted and we can return to normal life."

And another who works with people who have a drug or alcohol issue. Since COVID they've switched to takeaways only, giving away a hot drink, main meal and pudding and custard to 100 people a day 5 days a week. The cost of the disposables is taking a toll monthly on their charity bank account.

"Many of our clients are living in hostels or on the streets and pre lockdown we ran a drop-in at which up to 60 people attended per day. Our main focus is on changing lives, but the hot meals provided draws them in. We then have trained volunteers to sit/play games with them and chat about how we can help. We are pleased to say that we have many success stories with people working and living free from any drug. Your kind gift will help us to feed those in need. We are providing food at our front door and working with people in our car park and we plan to reopen in a small way very soon."

People who know me will know I’m such a Womble and won’t turn down any opportunity to get items for FREE and then think afterwards what to do with them. I can’t believe how much fun I actually had going to collect these items and I’m very glad they have all gone to such worthy causes. I have also passed on a list to the donor as to where the items have gone too.

Can’t wait for the next call!

Sue Naylor


Finance and Service Development Officer