Estimated reading time: 9 minutes
Salford Food Parcels is a community project run by Yvonne & Martin Simms and volunteers providing emergency food in the cost-of-living crisis. It is a lifeline for people in poverty. However, as the cost-of-living crisis escalates, more local families struggle and barely manage.
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. It includes local families, asylum-seeking families, Armed Forces Veterans, and working families and people. But, after paying bills, they all have little money to heat and eat or put food on the table.
Yvonne said, ‘Many of these people are local people. Some are regulars, and those who contact the campaigns are vulnerable. Many are on benefits that DWP had stopped for one reason or another. Also, some older people don’t understand the system and have no one to help them, whilst others are single parents, raising families whilst working on getting 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. Also, you don’t need a referral to access emergency food during the cost-of-living crisis.
Yvonne said, ‘If people need emergency food parcels and struggling to manage, we will help them. However, she said, I need more volunteers. Can anyone spare a few hours on a Wednesday morning?’
‘Also, we have the regulars coming in here for years. Salford Food Parcels is their lifeline, and they rely on us. I see how hard things are for them, but they were in poverty before the cost-of-living crisis; now they are struggling.’
Yvonne said, ‘the situation is getting worse. I would open at once, 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 is a lifeline during the cost-of-living crisis.
Yvonne asked me to meet with a couple she calls ‘regulars’. She said they wanted to speak about poverty and how the cost-of-living crisis has affected 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; I’m not naming them because it is disrespectful. When I arrived, the couple were selecting their food parcels. I watched as they refused a lot of the food they were offered. They said, ‘we don’t need those; other people might need them more.’ ‘We’re not greedy; we know what we need.’
They chose their usuals which included pasta, rice, tinned fruits, rice puddings and custard, toiletries, and toilet rolls. Yvonne talked them through the stock that week. 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, saying, ‘it’s better to eat healthily; there’s nothing nicer than home-grown!’
Their shopping trolley also had several of that day’s Metro newspapers. They said, ‘we pick these up on the bus on our way here.‘ She passed me a paper and said,’ this is for you. Now you can see what is happening in the world.’
I thanked her and asked, ‘why do you have so many?’
‘We would be lost without Salford Food Parcels.’
I knew the minute I clapped my eyes on my wife 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.’ We chatted away from everyone else, and her husband said, ‘I am 78, my wife is 70 years old, and we are both ‘second-time-arounders.’
‘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 treat you respectfully.’
He continued, ‘we are in a cost-of-living crisis; however, we must treat people with dignity. There’s no backstabbing in Salford Food Parcels; we are all together.’
‘We get by on a basic pension and 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 struggle to see, so my husband made my appointment with the hospital. That wasn’t too bad, and I had to 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 schoolteacher 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 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 that we are all in the same boat, the sense of community is returning. It is better.’
Salford Food Parcels is a lifeline for many people 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 she likes and any fresh fruit, vegetables, or eggs we get as a treat.’
‘Sharing with her is our way of giving back to those who can’t get out; 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 deliver them to the elderly on our estate. For us, it is really important because that way, everyone gets to know what’s happening 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 happened to me?’ I said, ‘don’t worry. You will be fine and think how better your world will be when you can see 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 they will be clear and sparkle once more when God willing, she recovers from her operation.
Labels gaslight a mess created by our 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 struggled 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. Without their help, many families, children, and vulnerable people will struggle. If you are struggling and need assistance, contact Yvonne on the form below for emergency food; please, do not struggle. Every person, every child, and their family matters. Together, we are stronger.