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A platter of food created by Oasis Cardiff

Case Study: Hodge Bank and Oasis Cardiff

The #GoodFoodCardiff campaign is bringing businesses together with organisations from across the city with a common goal – to help Cardiff become one of the UK’s most sustainable food places by the year 2024.

Helped by funding from FOR Cardiff’s City Ambition Fund we’re supporting businesses to ‘make a pledge’ to take actions which will help Cardiff to achieve Gold Sustainable Food Places status; we’ve created this toolkit to make it even simpler.

It’s not just food or hospitality businesses which can have an impact – here we hear from Gareth Cartwright, internal communication and engagement manager at city centre bank Hodge Bank.

“Hodge is a specialist bank providing savings and lending products that are really targeted for our customers in what we call the ‘moments that matter’ to them. And that’s a principle we extend to our colleagues – working to generate a really enjoyable workplace, somewhere people work together with the same ethos around doing the right thing.

“Food is a big part of the social side here – it provides an opportunity to get people together and for us as an employer, to look after their health and wellbeing. Throughout the week we provide different food options for our team – from a fresh fruit delivery sourced locally from Cardiff Market, to making sure that people have healthy breakfast options waiting for them when they arrive in the morning.”

As part of the Food Cardiff campaign, supported by FOR Cardiff, we introduced Gareth and the team to the catering team at Oasis, the charity which provides a warm Welsh welcome for refugees and asylum seekers.

Matt Davenport is the senior catering and hospitality manager at Oasis Cardiff. He explained:

“Oasis is a centre for asylum seekers and refugees, based in Splott, and I run the kitchens where we do two main things – we provide a free hot meal for asylum seekers and refugees in and around Cardiff, and we also provide external catering which helps to support the centre.

“Our main food-related initiative is The Plate project which focuses on providing employment opportunities for asylum seekers and refugees through external catering or internal catering, giving a platform for skills development and integration into the catering and hospitality sector and more generally. 

“It’s also a project that helps people to settle within the UK, using food as a medium for them to tell their stories and to be able to share who they are – getting behind that label of ‘asylum seeker’ or ‘refugee’.

“As a cook, I’m very privileged to be able to experience so many different recipes, so many different ways of approaching food from all of the different individuals that have access to the centre – and the stories behind them which makes them even more interesting. I know my recipe repertoire has exploded in the past five years that I’ve worked alongside the people we support at Oasis – and the external catering events we do give us an amazing platform to share those recipes and stories out into the wider community.”

Gareth added:

“Our social committee puts on events which often centre around food and they’ll often be ordering in buffets or lunches as a way of bringing people together. It’s great to have been introduced to Oasis Cardiff and the work they do.

“We use a lot of different local suppliers for food and catering, but by using a social enterprise like Oasis, the events we’re hosting to bring people together in the workplace can also be supporting the work they’re doing to support people in the community. 

It may seem like a small thing, but if more businesses in the city did it, we could have a much greater impact.

“It draws together a number of stands for us; we’re really big on the social connection that we can create in the workplace. We like to give our teams the chance to get out into the community through our ‘Four to do More’ volunteering scheme- and helping people to be physically and mentally healthy at work is really important to us.

“It might not be immediately obvious that a financial services business like ours has a part to play in creating a more sustainable, equitable and healthy food system in Cardiff. But by thinking about where we’re sourcing our food from, and the options that we’re making available to colleagues we can have an impact.

“Whether you’re a food business or not, the pledges that you make through the Food Cardiff campaign can be really powerful. Thanks to the campaign and our introduction to Oasis, we’ve pledged to use any opportunity where we’re bringing colleagues together around food to support one of the city’s brilliant social enterprises, like Oasis, with a great social purpose at the heart of what they do.”