Hotfoot partner Guy Cookson was recently interviewed by Emily Hulme of Global Radio about our work in creating the official emergency food response website for Coronavirus in Lancaster District, run by Lancaster City Council and the Morecambe Bay Foodbank.
The interview went out on Heart, Capital and Smooth. We don’t have a recording we can share, but here is the interview transcript.
EH: Tell me about Hotfoot – what do you guys usually do?
Hotfoot Design is a creative agency based in Lancaster, established for 14 years, we work across Lancashire, Cumbria and beyond. We design brand identities, we develop websites, we create marketing campaigns.
We’ve got a team of around 15 specialists from designers and web developers through to marketing consultants.
EH: How has the business adapted in these strange times?
In mid-March we moved from working in our studio in the beautiful Storey building in the centre of Lancaster and started working remotely from our homes. We’re lucky, in many ways, that we’re able to do so. Other than the interruptions from small children, that happen from time to time, we can pretty much carry on as before in many ways, though obviously I miss seeing my colleagues for a catch-up over a coffee.
At the moment we’re really focused on seeing what we can do with the skills we have to help our clients at what for many of them is a really, really challenging time.
And now, perhaps more than ever, some creative input can really come in handy as businesses rethink how they do things. For example, one of our clients, Lancaster Brewery, has gone from being a venue offering brewery tours and hosting parties, festivals and weddings to a craft beer home delivery service.
So it’s brilliant, really, to see people adapt and change in these times.
It’s a difficult time for everyone, but it’s not a time for giving up. We’re all rolling our sleeves up and we’re doing what we can to help.
EH: How are you supporting Morecambe Bay Food Bank? Tell me about the emergency food response project
Lancaster City Council and Morecambe Bay Foodbank have launched a partnership to co-ordinate and deliver emergency food parcels to vulnerable people across the district as part of their response to the coronavirus pandemic.
They are using Salt Ayre Leisure Centre as a base, and there is a combination of Foodbank volunteers, including a team from Lancaster Search and Rescue, and also council staff, and they have been working together to launch a large emergency food operation. And they are packing and delivering food parcels to vulnerable residents who need them.
Hotfoot has worked with Lancaster City Council on various projects for a number of years, and Hotfoot is involved as well in supporting Morecambe Bay Food Bank too, in fact our head of client services, Joanna Young, is chair of trustees at the food bank, so we know how important their work is in our community.
They approached Hotfoot last week with a massive problem, which is that food bank vouchers are usually issued on paper to those in need in person, and that isn’t possible at the moment.
And secondly they were anticipating a massive increase in demand for the food bank as lots of people have lost their jobs, lost their sources of income, and are in crisis.
There are hungry people, hungry children, in our town, and that’s devastating.
So working very quickly late into the night and over the weekend our team, led by our technical director Aidan Watt, needed to build a new website, which is lancasterdistrictcovid19.org.uk, and a system that would basically make it possible for food bank referrals to take place online.
It’s a central place that people can visit to understand how to get emergency food for yourself or for others, and we’ve done it in a way that’s easy to use and that works brilliantly across whatever device you’re using, your mobile phone, a laptop, or what ever.
EH: Why is it crucial to help the Foodbank out at the moment?
The sad thing is that there was already a massive need in our community for the food bank. Last year Morecambe Bay Foodbank issued over 8000 three day emergency food parcels. Which is a huge number.
Now there are hundreds of food parcels going out every single day to people in need. So demand for this is massive, because people are hungry.
We hear a lot in the news about people stockpiling. Stockpiling is a luxury, a lot of people, sadly, have to live day to day. They don’t have enough food for tomorrow, never mind the rest of the week or the rest of the month.
EH: Why was this important to Hotfoot to help support the local community?
We love our community. Our success at Hotfoot as a business was born out of where we’re from. Most of us in our team are from this region. Most of our work is in this region. And it is just terrible to see people in need in our community and if we can play even a small part in using technology, using our skills, to make things better then we have an obligation to do so.
And we are not alone this. Many local people, many local businesses, have really stepped up.
Our part in this Food Bank project is small compared to the volunteers at the food bank, people at the council, search and reduce, people on the ground getting this food to the people in need. It’s awe-inspiring, it’s humbling.
In a crisis it is amazing to see people come together for a common cause to help others, and I hope that’s one of the things people will remember about this in the future.
I’ve got children and when they look back at the lockdown during coronavirus I hope they think not of the death toll or the stockpiling – I hope they remember people were kind to one another and helped each other out.
EH: How can local people get involved to help?
If you want to help you can donate food in the supermarket as would do usually when you checkout, there’s usually a box you can put goods into. You can also register as a volunteer at lancasterdistrictcovid19.org.uk.
EH: Tell us about the ‘Vouch’ project and the aim of that?
Vouch is something else we’ve been working on. One of the first business sectors to really be affected by coronavirus was obviously hospitality.
Initially far fewer people were going out and now pubs, restaurants, spas and cinemas are closed. So for local independent hospitality businesses, and the people that work for them, it’s a nightmare, it’s a catastrophe.
At Hotfoot, we’ve worked in that sector for years, we decided to launch a website vouchforthefuture.co.uk where you can buy gift vouchers from independent businesses to use when coronavirus has runs its course.
It’s basically, buy now, experience later.
It’s fantastic to give a gift voucher to people you care about at the best of times, but now, more than ever, it’s amazing to have something to look forward to I think. And it’s also a great way to support local businesses.
So visit vouchforthefuture.co.uk and you can find everything from brewery tours through to Michelin star food, it’s a real diversity of different things, and I think our friends in hospitality need a hand right now. And we all need something to look forward to at the moment, don’t we?