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Foodbanks, covid-19, south Manchester, Chorlton

Foodbank fundraiser Charlie comes to aid of families in need during coronavirus crisis

  • Foodbank fundraiser feeding hundreds of families across south Manchester
  • Demand for basic necessities has rocketed during covid-19 crisis
  • Organiser Charlie Davies says response of community has been fantastic

A Manchester resident has launched a foodbank appeal to support people who are facing difficulties during the coronavirus lockdown.

Charlie Davies, of Withington, is an independent fundraiser who is well-known across various local Facebook groups for his charity work and community projects.

He has organised a collection of donations at Christmas for the last five years in order to purchase supplies for his local foodbank in Fallowfield and Withington.

By building successful relationships with supermarkets and wholesalers over years of fundraising, Charlie is able to use donations to the best advantage, getting discounts and additional stock.

Foodbanks, covid-19, south Manchester, Chorlton
Volunteers sort through donations for the foodbank

He said: “When I first started, it was just supermarkets. I would phone ahead and try to arrange deals but it wasn't always easy.

“Now we go to wholesalers instead, which allows the money to stretch a lot further.”

After raising £500 in the first year, his online fundraising appeal began gaining more support each Christmas. Last year, Charlie received more than £6,000, which enabled him to single-handedly stock six foodbanks across south Manchester.

Charlie also held a community event on Christmas Day last year at St John’s Centre in Old Trafford for disadvantaged people in Manchester.

Foodbanks, covid-19, south Manchester, Chorlton
Donations given by local people following the Facebook appeal

He said: “Anyone who needed it was invited. There was a Christmas feast which fed 144 people, live music, Santa's grotto, face-painting, crafts. It was a blast.”

Jonathan Zhuang dressed up as Santa for the Christmas event after finding out about Charlie’s need for volunteers on the Withington Facebook group. They gave out around 400 presents to approximately 70 children.

He said: “There was a lot of people there. Families, individuals, young and old. Everyone seemed to have a really good day and it was a great success.”

Following the outbreak of Covid-19, Charlie aims to support families who cannot make it to the shops safely due to financial or health reasons.

He has used his recognisable social media presence to gather volunteers who assist him in tasks such as sorting and delivering food donations in order to help as many people as possible.

Being known among local communities has also helped him gather financial contributions quickly. The foodbank appeal raised more than £2,000 in the first day within the first day of being published on the Chorlton Facebook group, which has 36,118 members.

In nine days, the total had increased to almost £6000, which Charlie said “blew my mind”.

“We’ve been doing non-contact pick-ups of food donations from people's homes to redistribute it to those most in need, and we are addressing some desperate individual cases with specific donations or help,” he said.

“We do a massive shopping trip every two weeks, and on alternating weekends, we collect donations from hundreds of houses across South Manchester who want to help. Since lockdown started, our work has provided over 32,000 meals for people in need.”

 

There has been an increased demand from foodbanks for extra supplies due to the crisis. Charlie is now donating items to nine foodbanks across Manchester rather than the regular six.

There are now more than 2,000 foodbanks in the UK. A total of 1,200 are run by The Trussell Trust charity and over 800 are independent.

In a statement made by Trussell Trust after social distancing guidelines were issued, the charity announced that they “haven’t yet heard that any food bank in our network is running out of all food donations.”

However, since lockdown was announced, local foodbanks have been struggling to cope with the increased demand for food parcels.

Emmeline’s Pantry is a foodbank which is dedicated to helping women in need. As an independent charity, it offers choice and additional support to their clients as well as supplies.

Since relocating to the Chorlton area, they have been working closely with Charlie, who has been providing them with donations of food and other essential items such as nappies, toiletries, and women's sanitary products.

The manager of the charity, Karen Wilson, said: “We have had a 75% increase over of people depending on us over the last month. We have also began delivering around 40 parcels to people who are self-isolating.”

NHS staff, particularly nurses, have become reliant on foodbanks even more so during the lockdown. Emmeline’s Pantry developed their service four years ago to cater for anyone who is struggling to buy food.

Karen said: “Nurses come to our foodbank mainly because of issues regarding parking fines which I think is very unfair. We are happy to help out in whatever way we can.”

The work that independent fundraisers such as Charlie Davies and charity organisations like Emmeline’s Pantry are doing at this time is essential in ensuring that vulnerable people will not struggle alone.

If you live in Greater Manchester and are or know of anyone in need of food packages or support, do not hesitate to contact Emmeline’s Pantry through their Facebook Page- @EmmelinesPantry

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