Estimated reading time: 9 minutes
Salford Food Parcels is a community project run by Yvonne & Martin Simms and volunteers and is a lifeline for people in poverty. However, as the cost of living crisis escalates, more local families, already struggling, are now barely managing.
Yvonne and Martin have seen a steady increase in people who need emergency food because of the pandemic, but significant growth has developed over the last few months. This growth concerns Yvonne and Martin as it includes local families, asylum-seeking families, Armed Forces Veterans, and families and people in work. However, there is now little money left, after paying bills, to heat and eat or put food on the table.
Yvonne said, ‘Many of these people are local people, some are regulars, but those who get in touch on the campaigns are very vulnerable. Some of these people are on benefits that have been stopped for one reason or another. Also, many are older people who don’t understand the system and have no one to help them, and others are single people trying to raise families whilst working to get by.’
You don’t need a referral to get emergency food.
Salford Food Parcels is open every Wednesday from 10.00 am to 1.00 pm at the Emmanuel Church, Langworthy Road, Salford, Manchester. More importantly, you don’t need a referral to access emergency food.
Yvonne said, ‘If people need emergency food parcels and struggling to manage, we will help them. However, I need more volunteers if anyone can spare a few hours on a Wednesday morning?’
‘Also, we have the regulars who have been coming in here for years. Salford Food Parcels is their lifeline, and they rely on us. I see how hard things are for them now, but they were in poverty before the cost of living crisis; now they are really struggling.’
Yvonne said, ‘the situation is getting worse. I would open up at one time, and we knew who would be there. Now, people are queuing down the street, and our shelves are almost empty by the time we finish at 1.00 pm.’
However, there was another worry in Yvonne’s mind; she said, ‘It’s not so bad now as it’s getting warmer, but God help them when it’s darker nights, and the heating needs to come on. What will happen then?’
Salford Food Parcels; a lifeline for people in the Salford community.
Yvonne asked me to meet with a couple she calls her ‘regulars’. She said they wanted to speak about poverty and how it’s affecting them. Also, they wanted to talk about Salford Food Parcels and the difference it makes to them and others in their community.
I met them last week, and I’m not naming them because I feel it is disrespectful. When I arrived with Yvonne, they were selecting their food parcels, and I watched as they refused a lot of the food offered by saying, ‘we don’t need those; others might need it more.’ They said, ‘we’re not greedy; we know what we need.’
Yvonne talked them through the stock, and they chose their usuals which included pasta, rice, tinned fruits, rice puddings and custard, toiletries and toilet rolls. She said, ‘we’ve got bags of Wotsit’s this week. Do you fancy some?‘ They said, ‘ooh, yes, please; they’re our treat!’
They were also in luck because Yvonne’s chickens had laid plenty of eggs that week; she also had a bumper crop of rhubarb from her allotments. They warmly welcomed them and said, ‘it’s better to eat healthily, and there’s nothing nicer than home-grown!’
Their shopping trolley also contained a number of that day’s Metro newspapers. They said, ‘we pick these up on the bus on our way here.‘ She gave me a newspaper and said,’ this is for you. Now you can see what is happening in the world.’
I thanked her, asking, ‘why do you have so many?’
‘We’ve been coming to Salford Food Parcels for a long time; we’d be lost without it.’
We chatted away from everyone else, and her husband said, ‘I am 78, and my wife is 70 years old, and we are both ‘second-time-arounders.’ I knew the minute I clapped eyes on my wife that she was the one for me. It was love at first sight. Luckily for me, she felt the same, and we have been married for 29 years.’
‘I was a builder by trade, but I had to have an operation on my knee as one day, it just went, and I didn’t recover from it well. After that, I struggled to walk, which meant I couldn’t work, and from then on, everything changed.’
‘We’ve been coming to Salford Food Parcels for over a year now, and to be honest, we would be lost without it. It is fantastic, and the people here are fantastic, and they treat you with respect.’
He continued, ‘it is important we treat people with dignity. There’s no back-stabbing in Salford Food Parcels; we are all in this together.’
‘We get by on a basic pension, and we have my disability allowance. But there’s less than £20.00 left after paying our gas, electricity, and other bills.’
‘What are the biggest challenges in accessing support?’
I asked, what are the biggest challenges in accessing support? They replied in unison, ‘It’s awful. You can’t get through if you want to see a doctor; you’re stuck in a queue. Also, it’s the same with DWP. If you need help, you can’t speak to someone without answering many questions. The message speaks too quickly; you get flustered and stressed and give up, but that’s probably what they want you to do!’
She said, ‘it’s the same for hospital appointments. I have cataracts and really struggle to see, so my husband made me make the appointment with the hospital. That wasn’t too bad, and I had to go and see the consultant who saw how bad my eyes were, and he booked me in for an operation in July. However, the hospital has been on the phone asking if I could delay the operation until next year because it is a non-urgent operation?’
She added, ‘I was a school teacher for 29 years in Singapore. The children I taught were babies up to children over 15 years old; I loved my job. However, I left my job when I met my husband, and I moved to Salford.”
‘When I first moved to Salford, it was different to now; the people were kinder, and there was more community. However, now we are all in the same boat, the sense of community is coming back. It is better.’
Salford Food Parcels is a lifeline for many on our estate.
The estate they live on is mostly older people; their next-door neighbour is 96 years old and ‘doesn’t like going out. It’s too scary for her.’
She said, ‘However, she watches out for us coming back from the Food Parcels on a Wednesday. We always call in and have a brew with her. We also take the foods that she likes, together with any fresh fruit, vegetables or eggs we get as a treat.’
‘Sharing with her is our way of giving back to those that can’t get out; in fact, that’s why I have so many newspapers.’
She explained. ‘There are many elderly people on our estate who can’t afford a paper. So, we get up early, go on the bus, grab the Metros, and together, we deliver them to the elderly on our estate. For us, it is really important because that way, everyone gets to know what’s going on in the world!’
I made her promise not to cancel her operation appointment to remove her cataracts. Her husband was adamant she wouldn’t, but she said, ‘my biggest worry is what would happen to him if anything happens to me?’ I said, ‘don’t worry. You will be fine, and just think how much better your world will be when you can see clearly again.’
For me, when you look into someone’s eyes, you see a window to their soul. Sadly, hers are cloudy, but I am sure that they will be clear and sparkle once more when God willing, she recovers from her operation.
Labels gaslight the mess created by Governments.
Austerity, poverty and the cost of living crisis are labels used to gaslight the mess left by our governments. The genuine labels we should use are people of courage, tenacity, and honesty, with compassion and love blended in. These labels describe people in need, and thankfully, Salford Food Parcels continues to be the lifeline for people already in poverty.
Many community groups, Charities and CICs like Salford Food Parcels are now a backbone of support as more families than ever are in poverty. They are also a lifeline of support, especially for families who once coped and struggle to find help.
Verve CIC is Not for Profit. I write articles and create campaigns to advertise the services of Salford Food Parcels and many other charities and community projects at no cost. I know that without their help, many families, children and vulnerable people will struggle. Therefore, if you are struggling and need help, please do get in touch on the form below for emergency food.
Alternatively, if you want to volunteer for Salford Food Parcels, find out more about Verve CIC or make a donation, please get in touch. Your support is very much needed and appreciated; because we are stronger together. Thank you.