From a loaf of bread to a lifeline

Olio Stories 3 min read

Ian’s journey with Olio began unexpectedly a few years ago, when his partner asked him to collect a couple of baguettes from around the corner. Initially confused by this unusual request he discovered that she’d just downloaded the Olio app and a neighbour was sharing some sandwiches from her Pret collection.

Soon enough my partner and I had signed up as Food Waste Heroes and I found myself doing local collections. This is when I first met Natalia, who at the time was working with her husband on a fruit farm which backed onto ours.

Natalia became one of Ian’s frequent collectors of the food he listed. Through their conversations, Ian discovered that Natalia and her husband along with a lot of the other workers were living in a caravan park, struggling to make ends meet. Ian would often get large volumes of bread in his collections, which he encouraged Natalia to request, and she would then distribute it amongst those living in the caravan park. It was a great way to support the local community whilst ensuring none of the bread went to waste.

A few months later, Natalia’s visa expired, forcing her and her husband to return to Ukraine. As the war unfolded not long later, Ian remained in contact, deeply concerned for their safety…

We started to explore the possibility of bringing them back to the UK and how that would work. We didn’t have any space personally, so I spoke to my mum, initially to see if she knew anyone from the church who would be able to help them. She actually lives on her own in quite a sizable house so she offered to have them stay at hers. It was a hell of a process trying to get them over here but in the end we managed it.

So in April 2022 Natalia and her husband moved back to the UK to stay with Ian’s mum. They are still living there today and Natalia has since started a part-time job as a teaching assistant and is attending college to carry out exams to further her education.

It’s amazing really, that initially a loaf of bread led to us helping them out so considerably. And a big thanks to Olio, otherwise we wouldn’t have met them and would never have been able to help.

What do you love the most about using Olio?

For me, it’s avoiding food waste. It’s just criminal that food goes in the bin whilst so many people are struggling in this country, so to prevent that has been the main plus.

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