Father who lost step-son to suspected suicide sets up community fridge to give back

Sean Warren organised the fridge as a way to help people in the Inglewood community.
GRANT MATTHEW/STUFF

Sean Warren organised the fridge as a way to help people in the Inglewood community.

A desire to help people following his step-son's suspected suicide has seen a man develop a community fridge for a small rural town.

Sean Warren's step-son Tyler died at the start of the year and while Warren was helping his step-son's friends in the wake of his death, he noticed some of them didn't want to ask for food because of the shame they felt needing help.

"It's very hard to budget for a fortnight on one income, and it's those last few days that I thought of somewhere someone could just go to without being judged, without feeling prejudiced, without being embarrassed or ashamed," he said.

Warren lost his step-son to suspected suicide at the start of the year and said while helping his step-son's friends, he ...
GRANT MATTHEW/STUFF

Warren lost his step-son to suspected suicide at the start of the year and said while helping his step-son's friends, he realised how big the need for it was.

That idea grew into reality and earlier this week marked the start of the Inglewood community fridge in the town's drycleaners, where people could leave their spare food and others could pick it up, no questions asked.

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Warren said he was still processing his step-son's death and the fridge was a way he could help the community while also taking a step back and focusing on himself and his family.

Warren said he wanted to keep the rules simple and hoped the community would take responsibility for helping it run smoothly.
GRANT MATTHEW/STUFF

Warren said he wanted to keep the rules simple and hoped the community would take responsibility for helping it run smoothly.

Warren had seen a similar concept in Christchurch and said he thought it could work quite well in Inglewood.

So he put the idea out on Facebook and received quite a positive response, although a few people were concerned it could become abused by people taking too much.

He approached Brad Craig, the co-owner of the La Nuova dry cleaners, about using the Inglewood Washhouse laundromat to base the fridge at as it was open 24 hours a day, was well lit and covered by security cameras.

Craig said he thought it was a great idea for the community and was happy to help get it set up after they had looked into the health and safety side of it.

"We thought we'd give it a go and Sean was pretty open with us, if it doesn't work it's not permanent but we hope it does work," he said. 

After the initial set-up period, Warren said he hoped the community would look after it by removing expired food and keeping it stocked up.

But he would still check on it once a week to clean it and make sure it was working properly.

Food for the fridge needed to be sealed and dated with the day it was made, as well as a label stating what it was.

"Unless I'm watching it 24 hours a day I'm not going to know who is using it," he said.

"I'm kind of not really worried who's using it unless it's being abused.

"If it is getting abused we can just work out the people who are abusing it are and just go and see them, for all we know they're probably going to need it."

 - Stuff

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