The Magic Hat is a space where the community can come together, share food, meet people and be a part of solving the food waste challenge that exists in Newcastle, the UK and beyond. To get involved people can come and enjoy the fresh, vibrant meals that we serve on a daily basis, volunteering in the kitchen or front of house or even join our staff team of trained chefs, baristas and driver who run the project day to day.
Our menu changes every day depending on what we get donated and our incredible chefs and community of volunteers cook up a new menus daily each with five to six innovative dishes on. The menu "goes live" every morning and is shared across social media. Behind the scenes, we have a hamper delivery service whereby any food we can't use in the cafe, gets packed into a food hamper which gets delivered and dropped off on your doorstep every Friday.
Alongside the cafe we also have a pay-as-you-feel supermarket, which sits at the front of the cafe. This is where all our donated baked goods that we are unable to use in the cafe gets distributed. People can collect a loaf of bread or a croissant on their way to work and leave a donation.
Our volunteer programme, which runs through all of our projects at Bind, allows people to come together and get involved. Whether that's learning how to cook new things in the kitchen, using surplus or meeting new people front of house and serving coffees. It's an opportunity to be be part of a community which wants to see change in the city.
The aesthetics of a place like this are really important. When we first moved into the space, it was a really industrial, open space that hadn't been used for years. We had to put everything in: walls, bar, kitchen, toilets. To save money and reduce our impact, we used as many secondhand materials as we could. Our tables are all off Facebook Marketplace, and all of our decor was created by ourselves. There's loads of dried flowers everywhere, because we got donated a lot of flowers in our surplus, so we dried them out so they would last forever. We wanted to create a community project that felt really nice; nicely lit and warm so people would want to spend a lot of time there.
If you're setting up a project, our top tip would be around being really focused and clear about why you are doing what you are doing - why are you here? When we first started out we were trying to be too many things for too many people, over the years we have narrowed our focus to simply be about bringing people together to reduce food waste in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, and we are seeing much more success as an organisation.
Our 15 staff, and an army of 60 regular volunteers work hard to make sure that the 1.5-2 tonnes of food waste we collect from around the city each week is used effectively.
Alongside the cafe, the Magic Hat also operates a weekly hamper delivery scheme, a Saturday monthly dinner service, a PAYF shop, an events program and a hireable events space. We work hard to make sure we use and share food waste we collect from round the city each week, often donating to other organisations who might be able to use elements of what we receive better than us!
We believe that change is created not by a handful of people doing ‘sustainability’ perfectly, but by everyone doing a little something. All profits from the Magic Hat goes to supporting other projects in preventative work in the city.