"ALT" is a shortened version of Alternative. We chose The ALT Group as a name because we look for alternative ways of approaching a problem, we try alternative solutions, we look for an alternative view. It is also the button you use on a computer keyboard to choose an alternative function for a key.
Is The ALT Group a charity?
No, although we do projects some people perceive as charitable and we offer services free of charge we are not a charity. The ALT Group is a Community Interest Company or C.I.C. This is similar to a social enterprise. This means we can accept donations and have a social purpose in what we do, but we also work towards becoming self sufficient and sustainable in the long term.
We chose this type of business model because we want to be able to self support in future but always stay true to our social aims. We don't want to have to reply upon grants in the long term. One of our aims and goals is to nurture local skills and talents so we are working towards selling items in order to make a profit to cover our costs.
As an organisation we do not want to be perceived as a charity. We understand everyone needs help sometimes and we want to break barriers between people. We find charity can often divide and has vertical social view, one party looking down towards someone lower; someone is the giver and someone is a receiver. We believe in solidarity, a horizontal view, that we are all equal and sometimes we all need to receive and sometimes we all need to give.
Why don't you charge for services?
The ALT Group try new things. We make bold moves in order to help people. We don't charge for our services, not because they are lesser quality, but because we believe fixed pricing and adding an external value to things has caused a great injustice in our society. After experiencing Gift Economy first hand and feeling the gratitude of being given something with no cost attached, we wanted to try a new way of giving in Consett. The world is changing drastically and capitalism as we know it is failing. A new system will have to incorporate different ways of "paying" for items or offering services. We are trying new ways of offering services so we can keep them inclusive and accessible to everyone, even people with a low income.
Is eating food waste safe?
Food waste is a complex issue. We are not talking about rotten food, food that is "off" or is unsafe to eat. When we are discussing food waste we are talking about perfectly safe edible food, that would be discarded when it could have been eaten if better managed. Some food waste is food that has never even hit the shelves to be sold, food that doesn't have perfect packaging or has been packaged incorrectly. We always follow all safety guidelines and we advise everyone to use their own instincts and senses, if it doesn't look, smell or feel like it should be eaten...don't eat it!
Is The ALT Group just for poor/homeless/ill/lonely people?
The ALT Group is for everyone. We see that we are all connected, that although each person is unique and special, we are all the same in many ways and that we all struggle sometimes. We help people, whether you are have a home or not, whether you are physically or mentally ill or not, if you are lonely or not, if you are rich or poor, whether you are old or young, gay or straight, male, female or transgender. The ALT Group is about breaking barriers, removing labels and bringing people together. We do not believe in labeling people and we understand every person needs help and support at different times in their lives.
We also understand putting people in groups can be both helpful and a hindrance, yes it can be healthy to find support from people going through the same struggles as yourself, but real solutions come from balance, so being around other people with different view points can also be helpful and healthy. We try to encourage people to mix with different groups and build friendships, support and understanding.
Is The ALT Group a Professional Organisation?
Yes, The ALT Group is a professional organisation, we are correctly registered and do everything by the book. However, we think it is important that it is understood we are made up of local people, mainly volunteers, who are trying something new. We have a plan, but we adapt to changes and go with the flow of what is needed from a project or for the area we live. We are local people learning as we do.
We want to help people, we have no ulterior motive and just want to do as much good as we can in our local area. Sometimes we may not do it the same way as if we had lots of paid staff or millions in the bank, but we do what we can, the best we can. We make mistakes and try our best to learn from them and get better.