A warehouse full of surplus Amazon products is now the nerve center of the unique Cottage Family Center initiative.
Items that would once have been routinely destroyed are now channeled directly to the people who need them most.
In just 15 weeks, an estimated £1million worth of goods found new homes – up to 6,000 a week shipped through a network of 60 charities and frontline organizations who signed up for the pilot.
The Cottage has been supporting the people of Kirkcaldy for over a decade.
Now, with the backing of its boss, former Prime Minister and Kirkcaldy MP Gordon Brown, it has become the first charity to sign a contract with Amazon for the distribution of surplus goods.
It all started with Mr. Brown pitching the idea to John Boumphrey, who heads up Amazon’s UK operations. The company has already dispatched a senior team to see how it works with a view to adopting it in the United States.
More companies signed up with in-kind support and substantial donations, and the project grew at a rapid pace.
Mr Brown, who called the response “remarkable”, considers the Fife pilot to be replicable across the country.
“This is really a pilot project to show what can be done elsewhere,” he said. “It’s not just for Fife – but here we’re looking to grow. We’re looking at the bigger picture
“We thought we would do 100,000 goods, now we’re looking at 300,000.”
The Cottage team at the heart of the vast operation has just acquired a second warehouse and is reaching out directly to companies in the supply chains who can offer surpluses to families in need. Commercial laundry fishermen based in Cupar, as well as hotels and caravan parks in Fife have all offered bedding in a bid to keep people warm.
Pauline Buchan, Service Manager, said, “This is not a crisis intervention project – this is early intervention. We don’t want to wait until people are in crisis before getting help.
“Right now, people can’t afford to turn up their heating – or even turn it on. We can’t let them get cold.
“We are already planning for the coming winter as we know energy bills will increase even more.”
This strategic approach is essential for the charity to help as many families as possible.
The Cottage is reaching out to churches and Rotary clubs to get them involved, and it’s looking at how it can help improve people’s lives with a new project, House To Home.
It will rely on a network of decorators, painters, carpenters and electricians providing practical help in improving the home.
Mr Brown explained: ‘We want to start redecorating people’s homes and making them warm and welcoming places – places in which they feel happy.
“We know they can’t afford craftsmen, so we look at carpets and flooring, as well as paint the walls and ask the craftsmen for advice on renovations.
“The key is having a warehouse and being able to move quickly to get people what they need.
“And the need right now is so much greater than ever.”