Hello and welcome to my June Chief Exec's Blog. I hope you are all keeping safe and well at this difficult time. We’ve been busy re-organising ourselves and developing new ways of working and delivering services, and this is the first chance I’ve had to sit and write my blog during the lockdown period.
Today I’d like to talk to you about one of our most necessary support areas, which we’ve had to grow and adapt during the pandemic; the Quids In food clubs.
Quids In food clubs
We have five food clubs across the Southway area which help people who are in receipt of benefits. Normally members of the clubs go the venue to pay for and collect their food - and often have a brew and a chat too! Members also volunteer to help run the clubs.
The situation with COVID-19 meant we had to think about how best to keep the clubs going. We didn’t want to put any of our members or staff at risk but knew that people needed the clubs more than ever and many of the members asked us to stay open if we could.
At the start of the virus outbreak we took measures to make sure members could still collect their food safely, following the Government’s social distancing rules. Some members then received letters advising them to shield and we started to deliver to them. After a couple of weeks, it made sense to deliver to everyone, and this is what we’ve been doing since. We’ve also suspended the membership fee as a temporary measure.
“Thank you for my delivery, very much appreciated. Many thanks to all of the people who make this possible for me and others.”
Many of our operatives, unable to carry out their day-to-day repairs, have stepped in to make the deliveries. Our usual Quids In staff are still coordinating the service but lots of other staff from across Southway have helped as well. It’s working really well and we know from feedback that it is very much needed.
“Thank you all for my food. It was lovely to see such a happy guy delivering it. It brightened my morning. Stay safe.”
Prior to the pandemic we had about 160 members and we are now delivering to around 270 households each week. This really demonstrates the need for support with food in our neighbourhoods.
Unfortunately Quids in is now at full capacity, but if you would like to join the waiting list or make an enquiry about Quids In please do email firstname.lastname@example.org and someone will get back to you, and we will make sure you can access some support should you need it.
“To all the Quids In Team, you are all doing a great job!”
Food poverty in Manchester
There is a food poverty problem across the city which has escalated during the coronavirus crisis.
Food poverty covers the affordability of food, as well as its availability within local communities. Before the pandemic, there was estimated to be 400,000 people in food poverty in Manchester.
Early signs suggest that this has increased. For the UK’s foodbanks, demand has surged, and supplies have stalled, with some closing due to lack of food and resources. Lockdown also reduced in-person donations and emptied supermarket shelves of tinned and longlife goods, removing many of the usual access routes to food for people with lower incomes.
Manchester City Council has responded to this particularly difficult time by setting up a helpline for Manchester residents. Lots of organisations and community groups have also come together to ensure help is being provided to the most vulnerable and in need, including groups run by tenants for our own communities (1) (2). Southway’s Quids In clubs have also received some great donations from individuals and companies, which have really helped our customers.
If you need support, in the first instance Southway tenants can always email us at email@example.com or call 0161 448 4200 and we will try to help; though we may need to access MCC’s service for you.
What could we do next?
I would really like to know what you think Southway could do to help with the food poverty situation - not just in these unprecedented times but also in the future, as needs change post-pandemic. I’d be interested to know about things like:
- Any good ideas you have seen that respond to food poverty
- The other organisations, groups and charities it would be good to link up with
- What would have the greatest impact, or how could we help the most people possible?
- How can we prioritise groups who need it most?
- How would you deliver support safely in the current climate?
For example, we would like to do something to help families with school-aged children over the summer, and want this to be shaped around the need in our communities.
Please get in touch and let us have your ideas, bearing in mind that social distancing rules will still be in place for some time. You can leave a comment below which I will pick up, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or respond on social media.
I look forward to hearing from you,