Questions and Answers With: Katie Cavanna of RE4orm

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Hi Katie, what’s your background? Why did you start RE4orm and what does it do?

Having worked within the local community for the last 15 years, supporting refugee families, Gypsy, Roma and Traveller families, asylum seekers, those on long-term benefits and families experiencing poverty, at times I felt frustrated by the system and wanted to make support more accessible and inclusive.

With 6000 children currently living in poverty in Torbay, I was aware of the barriers many faced in the community and sought an alternative, inclusive solution. The idea of a community hub was discussed, and soon it turned into one on wheels, so we could be accessible to all!

In October 2019, RE4orm, a Community Interest Company, was set up. Borne out of the idea that education is key, and it’s the responsibility of the whole community to educate. I founded RE4orm to bring positive change for all.

RE4orm’s mission is to alleviate poverty and raise aspirations.

Since launching RE4orm, what have you been up to?

Since our launch in October 2019, the last 6 months have been incredibly busy! We have purchased UB40’s old tour bus, to convert it into a mobile community hub. Although the renovation process has been delayed due to COVID-19, we are excited to get the community hub completed and on the road, supporting families across Torbay. The mobile hub will be equipped with a library, meeting areas and kitchen – designed to bring support right to your front door.

As well as this, we have launched numerous projects, such as our Christmas Appeal, Uniform Swap, and Birthday Bonanza. Excitingly, our wonderful community donated over 700 Christmas presents to local children, ensuring they had something to open on Christmas Day.

We are aware that funding is competitive and highly sought after. In response to our goal to make RE4orm sustainable, we set up the RE4orm shop on Lucius Street, Torquay. Based on a social enterprise model, we sell upcycled furniture, donated by the community, with the proceeds from all goods sold going towards RE4orm’s community work.

What lessons have you learned on your journey to date? And what have been your high and low points?

I have learnt so many lessons in such a short period of time, and so much more about myself as a person, leader and businesswoman. There have been many high points; uniting our community, our Festive Party for families, supporting those in need, working with a variety of businesses and networking to source future leads. I have been overwhelmed by the support RE4orm has received in such a short period of time.

There have also been many sleepless nights. Finding and obtaining funding is very difficult. There is an awful lot of competition from other charities, and at times, it has been disheartening to be told ‘No’. However, on reflection, it has made me more determined to keep going. It is not always going to be easy, but I truly believe we can make a positive difference and bring hope to many – that’s what gets me out of bed every morning.

With regards to Covid-19, the community has really come together to support your mission at this time, can you share what you have been doing & how local businesses & people have helped you?

At the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak and the lockdown, I was fully aware of the situation many families were going to find themselves in. A call to action on social media last month resulted in us collecting a team of 40 brilliant volunteers, who have worked tirelessly to ensure families are supported. As a result, we successfully delivered 6200 meals, 6200 food parcels, 652 books, 450 hygiene packs and 1000 Easter eggs to families in need across Torbay. Each week, more volunteers and businesses have joined our mission. We will continue to do what we can as this crisis continues.

I have been absolutely overwhelmed by the kindness, love and compassion shown by everyone to each other. As well as donating food, PPE equipment and packaging, we now have a team of restaurants and suppliers supporting RE4orm’s mission. Me & Mrs Jones, Shoreline, Cary Arms, Below Decks & Nana Cavanas, are helping us cater our meals from their commercial kitchens.

What are your long-term plans for RE4orm?

We have secured enough funding to ensure that RE4orm can continue to deliver 800 meals per week throughout the summer. I am well aware that once this crisis is over, the support for families must not stop. We will carry on working in partnership with local schools and Children’s Services to take some of the pressure off them.

In the last week, I was thrilled to receive confirmation of a funding grant from the National Lottery. This is amazing news, as the grant will support our work with families through our mobile community hub, which launches in the Autumn.

How can the business community help & support you moving forward?

There are many ways they could help. This can be done by donating food or funds through our Just Giving page, while we always welcome new volunteers to join us on the ground.

You can also help us raise £1400 to provide food packages for the children in Torbay who benefit from Free School Meals when the schools are open.

If you’d like to donate, please use the following link to reach our Just Giving page:

We are also looking for assistance with administration and PA support, plus with bid writing. If you can help us, we would love to hear from you.

Lastly, you can follow us on social media to share our journey and learn our stories!

Twitter: @katieRE4orm

Instagram: @re4orm_torbay


This article was featured in the latest edition of Quay Magazine! Use this link to download your FREE copy:

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