Ray Clark: 00:00
We’re going to talk about something more basic than computers, machines of any sort; food and we all need that. There is a Trust being unveiled today at Braxted Park, there is a Christmas event on there, at Great Braxted; a new project seeing game keepers and game dealers and charities, all joining together.  Now, on the face of it this sounds a little odd. No food, eat pheasant but we’re going to find out more about this now from our guests Tim Woodward from The Country Food Trust and Rob Saggs from the Chess Organization in Chelmsford, it is a charity for the homeless. How are you Tim, how are you Rob, thank you for coming in this morning.

Tim Woodward/Robb Saggs: 00:35
A pleasure, good morning.

Ray Clark: 00:35
Alright guys. Well, let’s start with Tim because he’s traveled furthest whereas Rob’s only come from next door. Tim, The Country Food Trust, what is it? What does it do?

Tim Woodward: 00:44
So, it’s a charity we set up four years ago and it was a very simple idea. There’s a quite a large amount of game meat that’s available, a lots of it going to the continent very cheaply. And obviously as we all know, sadly an increasing number of people in need in this country. A lot of whom are in Chelmsford looked after by Rob’s fantastic charity.  So we thought, can we put the two together? We went out to charities and said, what are you missing in terms of food? And they said look, we get a lot of quite, you know, low value nutrition product but we don’t get a lot of protein. So we went away and we have come up with a curry and a casserole in pouches which we can donate to people in need.  So in essence what it is, it’s pheasant meat, partridge meat made into a delicious curry by our chef Tim Maddams who came from the River Cottage, and we donate that out to people in need.

Ray Clark: 01:29
That’s so simple, isn’t it? Why is it taking a while to think of?

Tim Woodward: 01:32
I think what it needed was – I think it’s being done locally, I think you’ll find a lot of people in the country;  are helping out their local people. What we’ve done is try to go national with it, and that took a little bit of time in thinking about how to do it. The sporting community, the shooting community and the field sports community have come together, made huge donations to it so we can really do it and do it very professionally.  So we have professional manufacturers doing it, so we so far have fed a 175,000 people. And today what we’re launching with Rob is a new idea where rather than producing the meals we’re now also donating meat, and with the help of Tim Maddams who is coming up to Braxton Park as you mentioned, we are going to get a number of charities including Rob’s to come together and say, look this how you can cook the meat to make delicious meals for the people in need.

Ray Clark: 02:18
So back to basics with game, is it the case that we going off it and you’re not selling enough or you’ve got a surplus, how have you got this surplus please?

Tim Woodward: 02:26
I think the way the surplus has come about is that shooting is becoming incredibly popular. I think it used to be that more and more people are doing it, and consequently, I don’t know if game is becoming less popular, there are lots of people, they’re starting to become popular again.  You know, like a lot of food I think they come in and out of fashion. So for us it’s really a question of – our aim is to feed a million people, we think it’s fantastic meat. I mean, it is a lot less fat in it than chicken, greats sort of vitamins in it and produces a really nutritious meal. So for us, that’s really the reason that we’re using that.

Ray Clark: 02:58
I have one more question for you Tim and then we’ll go over to Rob, and please don’t think I’m sounding negative here. But if I were a gamekeeper and I was thinking well actually I’ve got a surplus here, does that mean that you come on strong this year but next year there won’t be as many birds around, so you have to back pedal?

Tim Woodward: 03:13
No, I think honestly, and I think like every charity, the amount of people we can feed comes down to the amount of money that comes in. So, we called it  The Country Food Trust, we’ve started off using pheasant and partridge but we have brood aims, I mean much longer term, maybe not for this conversation but, you know, our aim is to provide nutritious meals to people in need whatsoever we use. Currently we’re using Pleasant and Partridge, because the community is helping us do that and being incredibly supportive.

Ray Clark: 03:37
Rob Sagg’s is from Chess based in Chelmsford; just tell us a little about chess, if you will Rob.

Robert Saggs: 03:41
Yeah, sure! So, we’re a homeless charity offering support to homeless individuals. We effectively are a change program that helps people gain, re-get independence of their life once again. We have, as you’ve already mentioned, we just next door so we’ve got a nine bedroom, night shelter there and then another load of bedrooms that may mount up to 32, so we have 32 bed spaces over six properties.  But on Monday we launch our winter project, so we’re opening up another 10 bed spaces so that we’ll be hosting 42 people that would obviously be rough sleeping if not. So, yeah! Another bed spaces open on Monday. So it’s busy and obviously a significant number of people are struggling with homelessness.

Ray Clark: 04:19
So, a huge issue and it would seem growing bit. But equally, I hope I’ve got this right, you might tell me the opposite. But are we as a nation, as a people suddenly becoming a bit more aware of the fact that, the guys, the women that are turning to charities like your own for help aren’t there of their own choosing, in most cases.

Robert Saggs: 04:37
As you say, there is a significant rise in the number of homeless people, I think that’s the austerity measures that we’re facing, we’re going through but, yeah! Just all those hits that just keep coming from, you know, from the crisis that we’re in, they don’t help anybody; that charities like ourselves and other ones, having to pick up the pieces and try to make it work for folks.

Ray Clark: 04:58
And it can’t be cheap to run a charity, an organization like you. So, I guess sad as it sounds, food is going to be way down the scale, when you’re looking for money to – You’ve got to give shelter to these people, you’ve got to find money for the accommodation for the people that have to have to be paid or have to work there, or whatever. So, you know, when you’re ticking off the list food, we have food, we want to feed these people, so when this guy comes along and says, well, we will give you some food. I mean, you must welcome him with open arms.

Robert Saggs: 05:23
Bite his hands off.

Ray Clark: 05:24
Yeah, yeah, exactly!

Robert Saggs: 05:26
No, it was brilliant and we’re really, really, really excited to be partnering with these guys and going forward. So, you know, with Tim, with Braxton Park, we’re really excited. And as you say, one of the main things that we get at harvest donations and a significant amount, you know, but it is often a lack of protein within that.  So, actually getting the protein has always been one of our big asks. We want the meat because obviously you want to be able to serve people good, nutritious, healthy meals. I used to be a chef myself, so I’ve tried it and love it myself, you know. So it’s great to be able to have the nutrition and the protein in, and coming in free of charge. Fantastic! Absolutely, fantastic!

Ray Clark: 06:03
Yeah! What’s the reaction? I mean, I can just with a smile on my face think some guy that hasn’t eaten for three or four days you say would you like some pheasant here and he’s going to think what is this, what’s going on here?

Robert Saggs: 06:13
No, no, some of our guys absolutely love it, they absolutely love it. Yeah, we did a taste test when we first started and met up with you guys. And they’re like, no I really like that because there’s a curry one as well a partridge curry. Yeah! Absolutely loved it.

Ray Clark: 06:25
So back to Tim again, we talking about -Your headquarters is down in the West Country, isn’t it?

Tim Woodward: 06:31
Yes. Well, I lived down in the West Country, but actually were we sort of work around the country. So the idea was two forms, two types of charities fundamentally, those who feed people on site and those who give food out.  So Trussell Trust for example, gives food out. So the Country Casserole and the Country Curry come in pouches, they’re ambient, they don’t need to be frozen or chilled, they last for a year, they’re pressure cooked in the old fashioned parlance.  And we hand those to charities like the Trussell Trust who had them out.   Then you have people who cook, and that’s why they either use these pouches as well or increasingly we have the meat coming in directly in chilled format. And the most exciting thing we’re doing at the moment is because, as you said earlier you’re not familiar with pheasant, how to cook it? We’ve got a whole line of fantastic chefs, with the help of Tim Maddams who have come together and provided all these really simple recipes.  And recipes designed to take account of the ingredients and the facilities that many charities have which can be quite limited. So the people like Prue Leith, Mark Hix, Rick Stein and a whole host of family chefs have come together with simple recipes. So what we hope is that the chef’s sitting in places, cooking for people in need actually go or have a go at this, this could be fun and create something much more, you know, delicious for the people.

Ray Clark: 07:41
Amazing! And there were no downsides to this? I mean, my job is to see anything, there must be downsides, challenge him on that, but I can’t. So we’re talking game now but what else have you got in your larder Tim.

Tim Woodward: 07:52
Well, at the moment we are using game. I think one of the things that you will understand and everyone understands is that if you launch a charity you need to have somebody who wants to fund it. So, but we’re looking at all sorts of other things.  There are a variety of proteins out there that on occasion become cheap, we haven’t used it yet but for example, there’s a lot of goat milk being used at the moment and in the natural process of producing goat milk, the male goat kids don’t do so well in the process, so maybe that’s something we’ll look at, expand into that.  But I said, we’ve started off very much in using pheasant and partridge because that’s the current area that we can use but we have a completely open mind of where we’re going.

Ray Clark: 08:27
Rob if this guy and this charity and these people hadn’t come along, what would you do for food? You just wouldn’t have that source of food that you need and you’d have to rely on cans of soup and crackers, I guess?

Robert Saggs: 08:40
Yeah! We all eat cans of soup and crackers but obviously, yeah! No it’s a massive benefit to us. It’s is one of those things like when you are doing your weekly shop you obviously, your bigger hit is the protein, is the meat, so actually receiving it is a, you know, really helps charities like ourselves, you know, money is a big deal all the time. We did our sleep out last night, hence the black lines under my eyes, you know, but yeah! It’s one of those things that we’re always after again going forward.

Ray Clark: 09:06
And talking of a sleep out, what is the reaction from people in Chelmsford? Do you get a bad time or do they, do the majority of people appreciate the problems.

Robert Saggs: 09:15
I think the majority of people do appreciate the issues and the growing issues as well, because there’s, a lot of the homeless individuals that were working with and those that maybe are on the streets are struggling, some with substance misuse, you know, due to whatever they’ve been through in their world. You know, because one of the things I would say to everybody, if you’re looking at somebody who’s rough sleeping, there’s a reason behind the reason.  You know, as in there’s something that they’ve been through; all they have suffered is rejection if they’re rough sleeping. You know, so it’s not – Nobody chooses that lifestyle in any way shape or form and its slow roads into trying to change their world and make them realize that actually we need help.  You know, there is lots of organizations working in the city, we’re one of them, we work with a lot of the organizations as well and we want to help as many people as we can. But our new winter project which begins on Monday is specifically for rough sleepers, so there’s another 10 bed spaces, we’ll hopefully see less people out in the cold weather in the coming months.

Ray Clark:10:07
And if anybody feels able to help you’re in New London Road just pass BBC Essex.

Robert Saggs: 10:11
Yeah, yeah, yeah, right next door.

Ray Clark: 10:12
Okay. Guys, thank you ever so much for coming in. Tim Woodward from the Country Food Trust and Rob Saggs from Chess Chelmsford, just a brilliant, if I dare say simple idea but how well it has worked.

Tim Woodward: 10:23
Yes, I just like to say, you know, Essex has been the most fabulous county where we’ve launched here really this appeal because people like Rob are being so sort of willing to help us but if there are charities out there that need food, please can you contact us either through Rob or Braxton Park – Duncan Clark our trustee there, so please, please contact us, we’d love to help more people in this county.

Ray Clark: 10:41
Just say that again because now it’s not an offer you hear every day. You’re appealing for charities who need food.

Tim Woodward: 10:46
Correct. If you need charities, please we’ve got a website, it’s at the country food trust, you can find it there or Braxton Park. Please contact them. We’re happy to help anyone we can.

Ray Clark: 10:56
And that event at Braxton park today and that’s where you’re heading off to now.

Tim Woodward: 11:01
Can I just point out? It’s sold out, so please no one attend if you haven’t got a ticket.

Ray Clark: 11:04
Okay. But at least the important thing is that the event and the whole process is on the move. Guys, thank you ever so much for coming in.

Tim Woodward&3: 10:10
Thank you.

Ray Clark: 11:11
Fascinating story and I wishes you well; wish you both well, thank you.