Colleagues from the North East’s largest building society have supported a local café in opening their new “pay as you feel” café.

Newcastle Building Society colleagues supported REfUSE, a North East based Community Interest Company, who opened their full-time café in Chester-Le-Street on 5 April after running pop-up cafes in community venues for the past two years.

REfUSE is a part of The Real Junk Food Project which started in Leeds and has spread world-wide to create an organic chain of “pay as you feel cafes”.

The café serves food, which would otherwise go to landfill, to members of the community on a “pay as you feel” basis, helping to reduce the 7 million tonnes of edible food sent to landfill every year. According to REfUSE, pay as you feel challenges people to value food that has wrongly been labelled ‘worthless’ by thinking about the energy, resources, and time that have gone into producing it.

After working on the café for the past seven months, the team were finding it difficult to find tradesmen to carry out joinery work in the café, when members of Newcastle Building Society’s property services team heard about their difficulties and came to the rescue.

Dave Watson, Craig Rowan and Mick Smith took on the challenge, and used their Society volunteering days and their skills to help transform the space.

Dave Watson, maintenance manager at Newcastle Building Society, said: “It was really great to help out a local social enterprise get ready for their launch date and we’re looking forward to seeing the finished café at their opening.

“We heard about Refuse through Pauline, a colleague at our Chester-Le-Street branch, and we realised only two days of our time to help the company was next to nothing.  We were part of a larger team of volunteers that helped Refuse out, it was a real community effort.”

Nikki co-founder and director of REfUSE, added: “Newcastle Building Society donated two days of their time. The guys were brilliantly helpful in hanging the doors to our toilets and kitchen for us – they did a great and professional job!”