The Independent Foodbank Aid Network reported a 177% increase in the number of emergency 3-day food parcels distributed in the UK in May 2020, compared to the same time period in 2019 (IFAN data since COVID-19). The case in Manchester is no different, especially when we know that the North West of England distributes more food parcels to struggling households than any other UK region, & that’s just via the Trussell Trust’s network of foodbanks (End of Year Stats).

We Love MCR, as the City of Manchester’s own charity, set up the We Love MCR Covid-19 Community Response Fund the week before lockdown began in anticipation of the crisis looming over our city.

In the 18 weeks since they launched, they’ve given out £900,000 in quickfire grants to Manchester community groups & charities dealing with the immediate effects of the lockdown – covering many themes, including social isolation, mental health, young people’s engagement, & food insecurity.

They’ve now awarded 123 grants to organisations tackling food insecurity, totalling £405,000, which equals 45% of their total Response Fund – showing just how important this is to Manchester.

Ged Carter, We Love MCR Development Manager, tells us about the motivation behind their local response to this global issue:

“We knew immediately that Lockdown would create a huge new need for Food poverty relief, & for distribution of food to vulnerable people in Isolation. Getting ahead of this demand, & funding groups tackling issues in their local communities, was our top priority. The work being done by countless volunteers to help their neighbours in need is inspiring – we couldn’t be prouder that we are supporting so many people.”

The three largest awards in this latest round went to charities that have been delivering outstanding service to Manchester residents, learn more about them below.

Open Kitchen MCR is a not-for-profit social enterprise working to eliminate food waste by intercepting food destined for landfill & turning it into delicious & nutritious meals. They’ve intercepted & used 48,530kg of food so far, & for each tonne of food they stop 4.2 tonnes of CO2 from being emitted, meaning 203.83 tonnes of CO2 has been stopped from being emitted.

Corin Bell, CEO says:

“Food insecurity, poor nutrition & isolation were serious problems in Manchester before COVID-19 hit. The impact of the pandemic has hit the most vulnerable & those already on low incomes the hardest, but has also thrown a new range of people into financial chaos & food poverty. Since COVID-19 hit, Open Kitchen MCR has worked with Manchester City Council to provide over 130,000 meals to the people & communities affected most by the pandemic. We’re proud to serve our city, & this funding from We Love MCR will allow us to transition to deliver a service that’s more sustainable in the long term, so that we can keep providing support where it’s most needed. I’m beyond proud of my entire team for working so hard throughout”

The Mustard Tree charity has been supporting & creating opportunities for people & communities in Manchester & Salford for over 25 years, tackling both the causes & consequences of poverty & aim to prevent homelessness across the region. During the first three months of lockdown, they supported 4,648 families, with people visiting for food or having food delivered over 14,500 times in three months of lockdown.

Jo Walby, CEO talks about how our grants have helped them with their work:
“We’re delighted to be one of the many charities benefitting from the We Love MCR Covid-19 Community Response Fund. They were one of the first organisations to grant us emergency support in March, which gave us the confidence to remain open. Their latest grant has come at a time when crisis funding has started to slow down, & has enabled us to deliver our new offer focused on food, furniture & advocacy for those most in need. We hope to further develop our partnership with the We Love MCR Charity moving forward!”

Rainbow Surprise are a charity in Crumpsall, North Manchester, who have been running for 8 years and operated a food drive for the last 4 of those. Their mission statement is “To provide skills for life, inspiring activities & diverse services to meet the needs of local people & create a strong, vibrant community.” A great example of this is their new ‘Pad Bank’ initiative for locals to get sanitary products, tackling period poverty & cultural stigmas about menstruation.

Shakar Hussain, Chair of Rainbow Surprise speaks about their community’s difficulties during lockdown:

“Before the lockdown we were serving around 50 families a week with food parcels however that soon changed to 100 families or around 300 individuals a day, this was very hard for us as we had to face many different challenges. First we had to source new funds & donations to keep up with demand. Secondly to source so much food was a real issue as everyone was in the same boat & the shelves were getting emptier by the day – we were having to make 3-4 trips a day to the shops in our own small Nissan. We also had to find more volunteers not only just to help prepare the parcels but to help us deliver these parcels.

The funding received from We Love MCR has been a real life line. It has helped us with the purchase of food & it has helped us with our volunteer expenses & buying their PPE. We bought health & safety signs & cleaning products to make sure our volunteers feel safe & protected. We’d like to say a massive thank you to We Love MCR for their continued support towards our charity & food drive project.”

We Love MCR Covid19 Community Response Fund is almost exhausted.

They need your support today!

You can give by text. Simply text MANCHESTER 10 to 70470 to donate £10, (this works for any number from £1 – £20). Texts charged at standard network rate. Your donations will go directly to frontline charities doing vital work in our communities right now.



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