Yvonne Simms and Sloane Warbrick run the Salford Food Parcels project and the Holiday Hunger in Salford; they are passionate about supporting vulnerable families in poverty. Yvonne and Sloane run the projects with compassion and empathy because they know poverty’s impact on their community. The devastation COVID has brought to many families struggling before is considerable; consequently, the demand for help is even more significant. Salford Food Parcels and the Holiday Hunger projects operate throughout the lockdown; thus, they need to let people know that emergency food is available. If you are in Salford, don’t struggle, and get in touch. Yvonne and Sloane share their collective vision to support Salford’s families and Coronavirus’s effects on their community.
Yvonne Simms, what a year this has been!
‘This year has been outstanding in many ways and hard work in others. We came into 2020 thinking it would be a typical Salford Food Parcels and Holiday Hunger; how wrong were we?
‘In March, everything changed because of COVID 19, and we went into lockdown. In the first six months since COVID19 arrived, our adult requests for emergency food went up 2.75%, and the children went up 2.60%, which for a small food bank meant this increase was hard for us to manage. Thankfully, our two new volunteers, Mark and Chelsea, stayed faithful and quickly learnt the ropes for giving the food out. Together with the oldies, Sloane, Pete, Zac, and myself, we have managed to keep the food supply. The food parcels are collected from the building’s side door to comply with the safety measures, and thankfully, we have kept everyone safe. More importantly, none of us has contracted COVID 19 yet and feel blessed to carry on doing what we do!’ Yvonne Simms
Local business donations and people have been amazing.
‘The Salford Food Parcels project received additional support from Fareshare, and we now collect the second allocation of food. We now pay for each kilo of other food at a set rate, but this is still significantly less than we would pay compared to local shops. This extra food is a God’s send because it means we can support everyone with emergency food who needs it. Equally, the kind-heartedness of people who donated money, together with Morrison’s supermarkets that gave four trollies of food, has been amazing. This support and generosity keep us going; however, the future indicates continuing poverty and our projects’ need. More worryingly, it shows that the additional support we need to keep going will be significantly higher too.’
A chance ‘chat’ that set us off on a different path!
Verve CIC does not believe in making a profit from children in care.
‘Verve does not believe in corporate businesses making profits from vulnerable children in care. She said, ‘if Council weren’t had over a barrel by extortionate rates charged in foster care; perhaps there would be a budget for vital support networks? Ultimately, this would prevent families from vulnerability and poverty and reduce the number of children in care?’
Val told me that she writes blogs to help promote other ‘Not for Profit’ charities, and if I wanted any help, she would write blogs for us at no cost? So I said yes, and she did, and they have made an enormous difference to us. 2020 has been a fantastic year for random chats that turn the path we travel, and for both of us, it has been delightful’.
Val added a contact page at the bottom of the blog so people could get in touch; this went to her website ( we didn’t have one at that time), and she managed it for us. Our audience grew, and Val directed every enquiry to us; consequently, the campaign resulted in over 30 completed forms. Thankfully, it resulted in 30 vulnerable families in lockdown accessing emergency food parcels’.
Our ‘Knitting Baby Clothes Appeal’ was a huge help.
‘I told Val of the need for knitted baby clothes after Jeremiah was born early, and she wrote another blog. As a result, Val created the ‘Knitting Baby Clothes Appeal’. This time, a team of ladies came together to knit and create beautiful garments and blankets for us. Their collective response was, ‘What do you need, and how much do you need?’ And they got on with it. We are proud to say that every knitted garment has gone to a local family; happily, all babies are snug and warm, and Mums are happy’.
‘The knitters were often ladies who themselves were isolating and felt inspired to help. Val’s Mum was recovering from a stroke, so Val persuaded her to get her knitting needles out. She made a beautiful cardigan for Jeremiah, Sloane’s eighth child, and he now looks amazing in his cardigan. Thankfully, he is getting stronger every day and has begun to grow into it!’
‘We were also fortunate to have children’s clothes donated; these have helped local families again. Every item has gone to a family that desperately needs help, and I say, ‘Thank you. To all the beautiful knitters and those who have donated children’s clothes, you have made such a difference!’
Sloane Warbrick, what a year this has been!
Sloane’s son, Jeremiah, was born at 31 weeks and spent his first 20 weeks in the hospital; thankfully, he is now at home with his family and gaining strength. Jeremiah is the eighth child in his family, and his Mum is Sloane Warbrick. Sloane received the ‘Heart of Salford Award’ in 2019 for her work in the Holiday Hunger project. Sloane understands first-hand how it feels to need emergency food parcels to keep her family fed; this is her journey.
‘6 years ago, I found myself raising seven children alone; my husband walked out on us, taking with him the little money I had. He left my children and me with nothing, and often I would go with no meals myself to make sure I fed my kids. Eventually, I went to a food bank to have food for the children to eat; and my experience with a food bank was not pleasant. I felt like I’d let everyone down, and I felt judged. They told me I could only access this service twice a year which is nowhere near enough; it wasn’t warm or welcoming, and it was a case of sitting there and waiting for your parcel.’
Salford Food Parcels were different; I didn’t feel judged.
On that day, I promised myself I would never go back, but I had to. My children were hungry, and I needed emergency food, but it was different when I found the ‘Salford Food Parcel’ project. They gave me a warm welcome and a brew, and no one there was judgemental; they wanted to help a family in need. This experience made me realise that I could give something back to those who helped me; thus, five years later, I’m a team leader at that very same ‘Foodbank’ that helped me. I still go through hard times, and I am proud to be a volunteer to help people like myself. I know what it felt like to go through those hard times, and it was okay. People must know it is okay; we are here to help and keep them optimistic for the future.
This is It, a community group that supports families facing poverty.
‘At the ‘Foodbank’ I met an amazing man called Peter. Peter helped me and other families set up a community group called ‘This is it.’ We set up this project as a community because we know ourselves of families that struggle with basic needs; some families choose to pay the bills or get food. It is wrong that in 2020, families are working yet are in poverty and unable to manage. Sadly it’s made worse in the school holidays as many of our kids are not in school and do not have a free lunch. So, we took it upon ourselves to provide a lunch pack for whichever child needs one; we don’t judge, and every child gets the same. The children come and get a lunch pack of a sandwich, juice, crisp and fresh fruit’.
‘Sadly, during the lockdown, many families have had to self-isolate, and unfortunately, this is now including our children. I have found myself in hard times and facing poverty; sometimes, I still am. I am lucky and blessed with a large and loving family who want to help; my older children deliver the lunch packs to the homes where they live; they knock on and leave the lunch packs on the front step. I don’t want to ask for help, but I know it is there; no family or person should ever have to go without food because eating is not a luxury; it is a human right’.
‘No person should ever have to go without food…’
We gave out 798 packed lunches over seven weeks in the community; the Holiday Hunger project has never discriminated against any child. No matter the situation at home, any child who wanted a packed lunch has had one. Sadly, we have families on low incomes who, because of layoff or reduced hours at work, mean less food at home.
Salford is a community standing proudly together against poverty.
Last Christmas, I told Val that some of our children might not get Xmas presents due to child poverty. Val put out a Facebook post on Verve’s page, and her friends from the Salford Armed Forces Veterans Community, together with friends and members of the local community, quickly got together and donated gifts. However, they gave us so much more than that; they brought us an organisation that didn’t know we were there; all through a post on Social media! We wouldn’t have done this type of advertising, but Val got this story out there; thus, the kind-heartedness from local communities of presents and money donated meant added extra treats for the children.
A ‘Collective Vision’ for a Community Hub.
‘There is a collective dream to set up a hub in our community, where we aim to run both projects. This hub is where Salford Food Parcels will have the parcels collected from and prepare the Holiday Hunger club’s lunch packs. Our purpose is to provide a hub that families can come to whenever they need additional help or connect. We also want to offer craft projects, cooking classes, and parenting programmes to help families.
However, 2020 has thrown enough challenges, and maybe the dream will stay on hold for the future; but you never know. The tenacity and drive which continues to fuel us for equality for all families and children in our community mean we never say never. After all, 2020 is the year when we never know what’s around the corner; But God willing, we will come through it with dignity and compassion for each other. Stay safe.
If you need emergency food or want information about any Not for Profit organisations we represent, please get in touch. It’s okay to ask for help; we don’t judge because we have all been there at some point in our lives. Often, the kindness of a stranger is just what you need to get you back on the path again. Don’t be a stranger; if you need an emergency food parcel, complete the form below, and we will come back to you.
Please, stay safe.
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