Yvonne Simms receiving the Over 55 volunteer award from Salford Star

Yvonne Simms has the vision to create a community Hub in Salford.

I met Yvonne Simms at the recent ‘Ode to Christmas’ event in Buille Hill Hall, Salford. I was fundraising on behalf of the Salford Veterans Breakfast Club with a well-stocked tombola raffle with gifts donated to us from businesses, Armed Forces Veterans organisations and kind sponsors within the local community.

The money we raised would be used to pay for Xmas hampers for Veterans in Salford who lived alone. We did well, and thankfully, we raised enough money to provide a home-cooked, 3-course meal with entertainment for Armed Forces Veterans at the Salford Veterans Breakfast Club at St Thomas’s Church (Pendleton church).

Yvonne Simms is a Trustee of the charity LifeCentre based on Langworthy Road in Salford, Greater Manchester; it is a Christian charity that works alongside ‘Local People for Community Transformation.’

On the day, I looked over at Yvonne’s stall and watched as everyone greeted her affectionately. She was well-loved and seemed kind, and I’m not shy, so I went over to say hello and learn more about her. Yvonne said she had the vision to create a Community Hub to support vulnerable families in Salford…

Yvonne Simms, a worthy recipient of the ‘Heart of Salford’ award for volunteering…

Yvonne invited me to LifeCentre to see what she does as she gives out the Salford Food Parcels for Christmas. She told me the demand for Food Parcels was high; when I arrived, families were waiting to collect their parcels; Yvonne was concerned they could run out of food.

The Salford Food Parcel project is run in collaboration with the Red Cross.

The Salford Food Parcel project is run in collaboration with the British Red Cross Charity to support asylum-seeking families. Yvonne also ran the Holiday Hunger project in Salford, and she had prepared 34 Christmas lunchbox meals and a gift for the children.

Holiday Hunger is run by ‘This is It’ and is based on Barff Road in Salford; it is a community project aimed at improving the lives of 34 children and their families who faced poverty. Yvonne was concerned; she didn’t think she had enough money to buy presents for every child.

Yvonne said that many children on her estate would not get presents this Christmas, which is why she provides them herself. I was shocked and said I would ask around, so I posted an appeal on Facebook and asked family, friends, and the veterans at the breakfast club if they would help.

The response was amazing, and by Christmas eve, just four days later, we had over 90 gifts for Father Christmas for the children in the Holiday Hunger programme. They also dug deep in their pockets and gave cash donations which enabled Yvonne to buy additional food and treats; the holiday hunger box was extra special with chocolate and sweets.

We have 34 reasons to say thank you.

Christmas donations for the holiday hunger programme from veterans of the armed forces to Yvonne Simms

Thank you to my family, friends and the wonderful Veterans from Salford Veterans Breakfast Club who dug deep; God bless you all.

Universal Credit is causing hardship for families.

Yvonne told me about the problems some families were facing from the hardship of Universal Credit. She told me of one family who won’t receive payment until 8th January 2020 and won’t have money for food over Christmas. Yvonne explained the delays and sanctions from Universal Credit which had a huge, detrimental effect on families, which meant they struggled to feed their children. As a result, children were going to school hungry, and it was getting worse.

Salford Food Parcels needs sponsors and regular donations.

Yvonne currently has six people who are regular sponsors. They kindly donate £25.00/ £35.00 a month, which helps her keep the Holiday Hunger project going. However, she needs volunteers to help raise funds and let people know she’s there.

Salford Food Parcels and the Holiday Hunger programme do not have marketing budgets. They don’t have funding as they are a small grassroots project set up by people who care and know that something must be done.

I offered to write blogs for her and share them on social media within the local community. I didn’t want paying for this, and I’m not the best writer, but if it helps, I’ll do it. I aim to link local charities and community projects and network with potential sponsors and funding resources. After all, there are charities and programmes, all not-for-profit who do amazing things, but we don’t know they are there.

They never speak to each other because they fight after the same funding pots. It’s a bizarre world which would be more effective if they collaborated and shared resources.

Yvonne provides organic food grown in her allotment.

Yvonne said any money raised from future donations and funding would go to extend the range of foods grown in her allotment. Currently, the allotment has an established chicken coup and an orchard of fruit trees, including six established apple trees. Eggs and fruit from the allotment help her to provide ingredients to make healthy and nutritious meals; nothing ever goes to waste! This is important as many food banks rely on powdered food and tinned produce, which is okay and easy to store. However, it’s not healthy.

fruit and vegetables grown from Yvonne's allotment at the Salford Food Parcels project
Healthy and organic food are grown locally in allotments in Salford.

Yvonne’s vision for the future (she needs help with this!)

Yvonne has the vision to create a Community Hub located on the Barff Road/Kennedy Road/ Tootal Drive area of Salford. The Community Hub will be on the Number 10 bus route, making it accessible to more people and their families in need. The Community Hub project needs Funding, Volunteers and Sponsors to get this going. Ideally, Yvonne would like a millionaire to come along and buy us a big house, which we could have downstairs as a Community Hub. The downstairs would be a hub with a fridge and freezer stocked with healthy food. Upstairs, the hub will be filled with clothes and toys received from donations.

Realistically, this is not going to happen. So, Yvonne wants to find local businesses or sponsors to help her achieve her vision. She needs community groups and volunteers to help her with the practical side and maintenance of the allotment, including the restoration of the shed roof!

Yvonne wants to offer the allotment resources to other organisations in Salford that may benefit from nature’s therapeutic values. The allotment is a natural therapy for people to enjoy and seek solace when needed. One of the volunteers suffers from PTSD; he finds the outdoors and being at one with nature very therapeutic and calming. He would support anyone interested in sharing the resources to make Yvonne’s dream of a community hub a reality.

If you want to learn more about Salford Food Parcels and Verve or want to support Yvonne on her mission to create a community hub in Salford, please get in touch! As the cost-of-living crisis deepens, so does the need for more organisations to come together and share resources. Together, we are stronger.

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