Serve water, save lives

By Tom Owen, of FRANK Water

It’s not a brand new concept but it’s a message that stands the test of time because it really is as simple as it sounds.

Over ten years, safe water charity, Food Made Good Approved Supplier FRANK Water has funded safe, clean drinking water and sanitation for more than 300,000 people in 210 villages. How? By encouraging its UK supporters to drink more water.

FRANK was born in 2005 when founder Katie Alcott contracted a serious illness from drinking unsafe water in India.  After her return and recovery she realised that the UK trend towards drinking bottled water (in place of tap water) could be re-routed to help people for whom drinking tap water isn’t even an option.

In 2005, she set up a partnership with Tarka Spring, a family-run artesian spring in North Devon.  Tarka bottled a pallet of their spring water and labelled it with the FRANK Water brand – and Katie got started, selling a case at a time to local bars, cafes and restaurants. It worked. She donated her modest profit to an Indian NGO for safe water.

Fast forward ten years and FRANK Water still works closely with Tarka and now supplies this bottled water to a number of SRA Members, including Dishoom. Together they are helping fund safe water and sanitation projects.

But bottled water just isn’t right for all, and some restaurants want to help and support projects without necessarily stocking the bottle. UK tap water is right up there with the safest in the world, and this had led to partnerships like the one with Bristol’s award-winning Thali Café. SRA member, and proud holder of a Three Star Food Made Good rating, Thali implemented FRANK’s Drink Me Save Lives initiative around 18 months ago. This ethical water solution provides customers with filtered tap water on tables in exchange for an optional 50p donation to FRANK Water on their bill.

It may only seem like a little donation, small when added to the cost of a meal with friends. Small can be mighty. To date, the five Thali Café restaurants and their customers have raised £20,000 for safe water in Agra where thousands of people live in large, sprawling slums and often otherwise rely on privately owned water tankers for water.

The tankers don’t always arrive and when they do, water is sold on a first come, first served basis. If you don’t make it to the front of the queue before the water runs out, they must go without until the next delivery. Often, children are kept home from school to wait for the tankers – affecting their education and their future.

As we write, both Thali & Tarka Springs are, along with a FRANK Water team, seeing exactly what their money has been used for. They’re visiting Agra and the slums where FRANK Water works, witnessing the extent of the dirty water problem and how they are helping provide a solution.

Next year sees an ambitious scaling-up of FRANK Water’s work, and would love to work with more SRA members, providing bottled water or to discuss the Drink Me Save Lives initiative with organisations that share a passion for sustainability.

Contact [email protected]

To find out more about Drink Me Save Lives, visit

Read more about Thali Café and FRANK Water’s partnership, visit



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