Yvonne Simms and Sloane Warbrick run the Salford Food Parcels and Holiday Hunger in Salford. They are passionate about supporting vulnerable families in poverty. Yvonne and Sloane run these projects with compassion and empathy because they see poverty’s impact on their community.
The devastation that COVID-19 brought to families who were previously struggling is considerable; as such, the demand for help is even higher. Salford Food Parcels and Holiday Hunger projects carried on throughout the lockdown; they needed to tell people in need that emergency food parcels were available.
Salford Food Parcels – what a year that was!
‘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 COVID-19 arrived, our adult requests for emergency food went up 2.75%, and the children went up 2.60%, which meant this increase was hard for us to manage for a small food bank. 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 businesses came together to help us deliver emergency food.
‘The Salford Food Parcels project received additional support from Fareshare, and we now collect the second food allocation. 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 will grow. 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!
In November 2019, I met Val Hogan, the woman behind a fantastic company, Verve Recruitment, at a local community event. Val was there with Verve and supported the Salford Veterans Breakfast Club with Claire Marie Street. Claire is a Director of the Breakfast Club and an Ambassador for Verve; together, they held a tombola raffle to fundraise for the Armed Forces Veterans Xmas lunch in Salford.
Val told me about Verve and explained her reasons for setting it up. Val recruits and assesses foster carers for Not-for-Profit fostering charities, and she raises awareness by creating engaging ads and blogs; she told me her reason for doing this.
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 Councils weren’t had over a barrel by extortionate rates charged in foster care, there would be a budget for vital support networks? This would prevent families from vulnerability and poverty and reduce the number of children in care?’
Val said 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; they have made an enormous difference. 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. It went to her website (we didn’t have one then), and she managed it for us at no cost. Our audience grew, and Val directed every enquiry to us; consequently, the campaign resulted in over thirty completed forms. This resulted in thirty 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 desperately needing help, and I say, ‘Thank you. You have made such a difference to all the beautiful knitters and those who have donated children’s clothes!’
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 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. I often would go with no meals myself to ensure I fed my kids. Eventually, I went to a food bank to get the children’s food; my experience 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 return, but I had to. My children were hungry, and I needed emergency food; it was different when I found the ‘Salford Food Parcel’ project. They gave me a warm welcome and a brew. No one 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.
Five years later, I’m a team leader at that same ‘Foodbank’ that helped me. I still go through tough times, and I am proud to be a volunteer to help people like myself. I know what it felt like to go through those challenging 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.’
‘At the ‘Foodbank’ I met an amazing man called Peter. Peter helped us set up a community group called ‘This is it.’ which is a community project. We know many families who struggle with basic needs; it’s either paying the bills or getting 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. Many of our kids are not in school and do not have free lunches. So, we took it upon ourselves to provide a lunch pack for any child that needs one. Also, we don’t judge. Every child gets the same lunch pack; a sandwich, juice, and crisp and fresh fruit’.
Salford Food Parcels offer emergency food in lockdown.
‘Sadly, many families have had to self-isolate during the lockdown, and unfortunately, this included our children. I have found myself in tough times and facing poverty; sometimes, I still am. However, I am lucky; I am blessed with a large and loving family who want to help. My older children deliver the lunch packs to the homes; they knock on them and leave them on the front step. I don’t want to ask for help; however, I know it is there. No one should ever have to go without food; eating is not a luxury; it is a human right’.
We gave out 798 packed lunches over seven weeks in the community. Also, 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. Many, due to layoff or reduced hours at work, meant less food at home.
Salford Food Parcels stands proud 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. Her friends, who include Salford Armed Forces Veterans, came 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 advertising, but Val got this story out. 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 collect parcels and prepare the Holiday Hunger club’s lunch packs. Our purpose is to provide a hub for families to come 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 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. 2020 is the year when we never knew what was around the corner. But God willing, we will come through it with dignity and compassion for each other and, more importantly, our children. Stay safe.
Please get in touch if you need emergency food or want information about any Not for Profit organisations we represent. It’s okay to ask for help. We don’t judge because we have all been there at some point. 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.