By Adam Zdravkovic, Associate Director at Think Legal Recruitment in Manchester
Think Legal kicked off it’s Christmas CSR programme with a donation last week to Ardwick & Longsight Food Bank (http://ardwickandlongsightfoodbank.org.uk/).
Adam Zdravkovic explains…
Earlier this year I received an email from the directors at Think Legal, suggesting that I choose a charitable and local endeavour to support this Christmas with a £250 donation.
Manchester faces many challenges of course, with homelessness and poverty being very much on the agenda, and there are many charities in the city that need as much support as possible.
One charity which I’ve been aware of and supported is Ardwick and Longsight Food Bank. Volunteers from this independent food bank collect regularly on Saturdays at Tesco in Levenshulme. It felt to me that as an independent food bank at Christmas time, this would be a good time to receive a donation, and we arranged a visit last week to make the donation and donate some mince pies!
This food bank was previously set up as a larger food bank distribution centre in 2013, however moved away from this group 2 years ago to expand their scope to some of the most marginalised groups in Manchester.
They see a huge variety of people being referred to them for food parcels for different reasons, which could be low income, delays or changes to benefits, debt, homelessness, sickness or ill health, domestic abuse or delayed wages. An increasing number of people find themselves in a temporary situation where they can’t afford to buy food or basic toiletries for themselves or their families.
It is incredible that there are people like the volunteers at the food bank who are willing to give their time up on a regular basis for a project like this. And it’s a busy centre – so there is certainly a huge local need for it. The volunteers don’t just hand over food parcels – they carefully look at what is needed for each family and make sure that everything is well balanced nutritionally. As well as providing food to deal with the immediate crisis, they work in cooperation with other agencies and providers that can help with other difficulties that they face, be it finding employment or housing, or even a more local food bank.
We spoke for a little while with Sylvia who runs the centre and told us that demand for the food bank has increased greatly over the last 3 years. This is by no-means a localised issue – it comes at a time when research suggest that circa 14 million people are living in poverty across the UK (including 4.5 million children). The Trussell Trust points to a huge 19% increase in food bank use in 2018/2019 from the year before. In terms of why this is happening, people at Ardwick & Longsight Food Bank and other larger food bank organisations point to the introduction of Universal Credit, benefits payments not properly covering the cost of living, and a lack of local support for people in crisis.
It would be great to see a future where nobody needs a food bank and places like the Ardwick & Longsight Food Bank would cease to exist – although in the current climate this feels like a long way off!
At this time of year, we certainly felt the need to contribute to important projects like this and feel that this is something that corporate enterprises of all shapes and sizes should consider in terms of giving back and helping people in need, and also empowering their employees to be part of this.
In short, I was very happy with the choice of charity to donate to. It looks like our money will go a long way at an organisation like this and will be used to top up any items that the food bank is short of to make sure that their food parcels are properly balanced. We hope that the volunteers at the food bank and people who use it have as merry a Christmas as they can.