Tireless volunteer Ames is dedicated to helping people who are struggling to buy the food they need – and she says the support she's been given by our Warrington store's community champion Liz Cotterill is "absolutely immense".
Ames set up Hapi Hub – a community fridge scheme offering fresh food for free at four different centres in the town – as she turned her life around following an accident and subsequent battle with alcoholism.
Liz helped her set up the first community fridge and helped with fundraising, as well as securing regular food donations from all our stores in Warrington.
Liz also introduced Ames to FareShare, who along with The Trussell Trust are receiving £20 million over the next three years from the Asda Fight Hunger Create Change initiative that aims to help one million people in the UK living in food poverty.
Ames said: "Liz has helped me for the last couple of years – her support is absolutely immense. She helped me set up a bag pack in store to raise funds for the first community fridge, and now we've got four community fridges up and running.
"Liz goes above and beyond and we've really become friends. She's kept me grounded, she's kept me informed – she's even helped me grow as a person to get Hapi Hub to where we are now. I can't speak highly enough of her."
Ames had an accident about 15 years ago which left her disabled. She gained a lot of weight following the accident and began drinking heavily. Now, by focusing on Hapi Hub, Ames has transformed her life.
She said: “I ended up having a problem almost without realising it. I spent a lot of time in my flat and found solace in cookery programmes. I started cooking and kept doing it while I went through surgeries on my knee, and it turned out I was quite good at it. I thought my cooking knowledge could help me give something back to the community.
"Most cooking clubs seem to be directed at the elderly. I wanted to teach young mums who want to go out for a pub lunch, but can't afford it, and also children from seven up – everyone. These are about to start once we've got the funds together.”
Liz says she was so impressed by Ames’ commitment to helping people in the town and quickly realised what a difference she and our colleagues at the nearby Birchwood and Westbrook stores could make to achieving her vision.
Liz said: "A little over a year ago, Ames rang me to ask what Asda did with their food waste and would we donate it to her project.
"Her idea was to put community fridges in various community centres. Local supermarkets could donate food, and members of the public could access the fridge and take fresh food in times of need. Ames at this point didn't have a fridge, so I offered her space in store to bag pack and raise money for the first fridge.
"With the first fridge in place we supported Ames to access FareShare, then our store and the stores in Birchwood and Westbrook began to donate fresh produce each month.
“Now she’s got four community fridges, Ames has also set up a community lunch club, and with our support ran the first one. She used produce we donated to make a fantastic two-course meal open to everyone for only £3.
"Ames is a real character – extremely hard-working. She genuinely wants to make a difference to the local community. She's a true community legend – inspiring and full of kindness. We're lucky to have people like her.
"She said that all it took was for someone to believe in her, and apparently that person was me!"
The four Hapi Hub community fridges are at Orford Community Hub, Fearnhead Cross Youth & Community Centre, Whitecross Community Centre and St Margaret's Latchford's Community Hub.
Asda Fight Hunger Create Change: This Christmas, we're saying a big festive thank you to everyone helping to deliver our Asda Fight Hunger Create Change initiative. Read more stories here and find out more about our partnership with FareShare and The Trussell Trust here.