Food & Wellbeing

Covid-19: The impact on food support providers in GM

No comments

Update July 1st 2020:

Your participation is very important, and to thank you for taking part, a donation to a charity of your choice will be made.

If you would like to participate please either:

  • Click here and fill in a 20 minute survey (£10 donation)
  • or get in touch with Filippo Oncini by email or via whatsapp on 07340 483318 and schedule a longer interview via Zoom or Skype (£30 donation)

A new study on the impact of Covid-19 on food support providers in Greater Manchester is being conducted by Filippo Oncini, a researcher based at the University of Manchester.

Filippo Oncini research - Covid-19 article for GM Poverty Action

Filippo Oncini

The research aims to explore in depth the obstacles, the needs and the prospects of the food providers active in Greater Manchester. The findings will be used to increase awareness of the many challenges met by these organisations, to shed light on their needs and to gather a picture on the general situation. Teamsearch, a research agency hired to collect the data, will call each food provider based in Greater Manchester starting from next week to ask permission to conduct an anonymous phone survey. If they agree, the director or a spokesperson of the organisation will respond to a questionnaire on the characteristics of the organisation and on the impact of Covid-19. In addition, the interviewer will also ask if the respondent would like to participate in an hour-long digital interview with Filippo to better explore some aspects of this crisis.

You can find the participant information sheet with detailed information regarding the survey here. If you have any questions or comments, do not hesitate to contact Filippo by email.

i3oz9sCovid-19: The impact on food support providers in GM
read more

Children’s Food Campaign

No comments

Government urged to keep feeding children during school holidays

By Barbara Crowther, Co-ordinator for the Children’s Food Campaign

Charities, organisations and education unions have called on Education Secretary to announce additional funding for continued food provision during the forthcoming school half-term and summer holidays.

In a joint letter to the Secretary of State Gavin Williamson MP and Schools Minister Vicky Ford MP, the  organisations point to recent figures from the Food Foundation that show around 2 million children across the UK are directly experiencing some level of food insecurity or hunger. Before the crisis, 1.3 million children in England were eligible for benefit-related free school meals, however a further 1.4 million families have applied for Universal Credit since the start of the outbreak.

Campaign Co-ordinator for the Children’s Food Campaign Barbara Crowther says, “Hunger does not know the difference between term time and school holidays, and the Government’s support for families should be continuous through this crisis. Given the scale of food and income insecurity being experienced by so many families, it is critical that the Government makes national level funding available to cover all the school holidays until the start of the new academic year.”

The Welsh Government has already committed £33m additional funding to cover all holidays until the end of August, which is equivalent to holiday provision of £19.50 per week per child eligible for support. However, in England, the Department for Education has so far only committed to £9m funding for pilot holiday food projects in a few selected areas, with successful funding bidders still to be announced. In the letter, the organisations say this is not enough and a national level holiday provision funding formula is now needed “at a level sufficient to expand provision of free school meals substitutes, and to the National School Breakfast Programme, to cover all holiday periods across the whole of England until end of August.”

The Government did extend funding to allow the national school voucher programme for England to cover Easter holidays. The organisations are arguing that giving more advance notice for forthcoming holiday periods would allow schools, academy trusts and local authorities to make better plans with their relevant food and catering suppliers, or alternative voucher/cash support provision, with confidence that they will have the funds to deliver.

More information about Sustain’s Children’s Food Campaign and a list of the organisations who have signed up is available here

More information about the GM Food Poverty Action Plan is available here

 

i3oz9sChildren’s Food Campaign
read more

Assessing the Government’s Food Measures During COVID-19

No comments

By Tom Skinner

A Parliament inquiry last week called for evidence on COVID-19 and food supply. I was asked to help Greater Manchester’s response to this call, answering the question, “Are the Government and food industry doing enough to support people to access sufficient healthy food; and are any groups not having their needs met? If not, what further steps should the Government and food industry take?” Here is what I wrote:

Central Government efforts to provide food for up to 1.5m extremely vulnerable people shielding from COVID 19 is welcome, although there have been challenges around ensuring local authorities are fully aware of who is  in receipt of support from the government’s scheme. This has made it difficult to ensure local responses are coordinated and complementary to the national scheme.

The biggest concern however is that the number of people in need far exceeds that list, both because the criteria exclude some people who have serious health conditions (there should be a larger semi-shielded list of people who, even if they turn down or are ineligible for food packages from the Government, are still prioritised for other services and access to supermarkets), and because they don’t consider low income or other related socioeconomic factors. More than three million people reported going hungry in the first three weeks of the UK’s COVID-19 lockdown alone. Greater Manchester Poverty Action’s own survey of food support providers early in the COVID-19 crisis showed increased demand for their services, but concerns about the food supply and a major decrease in volunteer capacity that will have worsened further since the lockdown started.

The £3.25m grant for redistributing surplus food has helped to allay some of the worst fears about food supply to public sector and VCSE food providers, but food banks in several areas of Greater Manchester have still been running dangerously low on supplies and have had to buy food in, either depleting their own cash reserves or relying on bailouts from their local authorities. This financial hit compounds the impact of austerity in which those councils with the most financially vulnerable populations also experienced the harshest cuts, and there is significant concern that the “Fair Funding Review” could continue or even accelerate that trend. These concerns about local authority and voluntary and community and social enterprise (VCSE) finances in Greater Manchester risk undermining the city region’s determination to provide for all of its citizens and to transition out of this crisis with a shared approach to reducing food poverty. A commitment to bolster funding for councils in the future, to meet the needs of their low-income and other vulnerable households (including but not limited to ring-fenced and better funded Local Welfare Assistance Schemes) is a missing pillar of the Government’s COVID-19 response.

Household income itself remains a barrier to accessing food, despite many welcome moves from the Government – the furlough scheme, the end of the benefits freeze, the increase in support through Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit and the extra funding to councils to meet increased demand for support with paying council tax. The removal of the requirement for Healthy Start applications to have a signature from a health worker is welcome, and we encourage the Government to move as quickly as possible to launching the system for online applications, as well as setting targets to increase uptake.

Tom Skinner, GMPA Director writes editorial for GM Poverty Action

However the 5 week wait for Universal Credit continues to increase household food insecurity, as does the 2-child limit. We also advocate substantially increasing Child Benefit and scrapping the benefit cap that limits the total amount of support a household can receive through the benefit system.

Tom Skinner
Director, GM Poverty Action

 

i3oz9sAssessing the Government’s Food Measures During COVID-19
read more

Healthy Start vouchers

No comments

Healthy Start Vouchers – Applications Made Simpler

Families can now apply for Healthy Start food vouchers without a health professional’s signature on the form, as was previously required.

Healthy Start is the UK’s food welfare scheme for pregnant women and young children in low-income families. The vouchers, worth £3.10 per week, can be used to purchase fresh fruit and vegetables, milk or infant formula, and vitamin coupons are issued in addition. The application process and other issues have limited their reach, with uptake between 51% and 62% in Greater Manchester’s boroughs, charted by GM Combine Authority. This means many families are currently missing out, costing close to an estimated £4m per year across GM.

However, the regulations around the application process have now been changed, so Healthy Start application forms (which can be found here) no longer require a health professional to complete and sign Part B. These new regulations are welcome during the Covid-19 pandemic, as families at risk of food poverty desperately need support to buy healthy food, and health professionals are already at capacity.

“Low-income families need to be able to access all available support during this time of economic and social upheaval, so the timing of the new regulation is very welcomed as they will enable pregnant women, parents and carers to apply without having to seek out a health professional. Simplifying the application process is something that’s been needed for years and we are so glad to see it happening now, when it is vital to improve food access for our most vulnerable families,” says Maddie Guerlain of Sustain.

We are calling on relevant agencies across Greater Manchester to do all they can to make more residents aware of the scheme, and help eligible residents to apply. There will be a Food Power webinar at 11am on Tuesday 28th April for those wanting to find out more, including an update on upcoming digitisation plans and case studies from two food partnerships on how they’ve been working to increase take up locally. The webinar will be recorded so if you cannot attend the live session, you can register anyway to receive a link to the recording later in the week.

Find out more about Healthy Start vouchers and how to apply here.

 

i3oz9sHealthy Start vouchers
read more

Supporting food provision

No comments

Supporting coordination of food provision during COVID-19
By Tom Skinner

I represent GMPA on the GM Food Response Core Team*, taking the lead (with 10GM) on understanding VCSE sector food providers’ response to COVID-19, and helping them and local authorities to work together more closely and effectively. GMPA ran a survey of VCSE food providers at the start of the lockdown, providing valuable intelligence to shape each borough’s response systems.

*The Core Team, established last month, includes representatives from the NHS, GM Combined Authority, 10GM, Food Sync, One Manchester and others. Its role is to support the boroughs’ food provision activities, providing intelligence and helping them to learn from each other (and the VCSE sector), and to join up and share resources. It brings Local Authority Food Leads and VCSE infrastructure organisations together in a weekly Food Leads meeting, which feeds into Greater Manchester’s Humanitarian Assistance Group.

At the start of this month I wrote a paper for the Humanitarian Assistance Group recommending actions to support VCSE food providers during the COVID-19 crisis, including:

  1. Assuring a robust supply of food;
  2. Helping to provide access to facilities for storing and distributing chilled and frozen food;
  3. Funding and in-kind resource to maintain and expand activities;
  4. Additional volunteer capacity;
  5. Reliable health and safety guidelines and measures;
  6. Coordination between public services and VCSE food providers.

Half of these recommendations have already been agreed for action, and the others set aside for more detailed discussions in the Food Leads meetings.

I have also been connecting VCSE food providers with local authorities and offers of support such as food, volunteering and equipment.

This role is essential in helping Greater Manchester to make use of the food that is on offer to people in need of support, and I am pleased that our work coordinating the GM Food Poverty Alliance has put us in a position to do this.

However there is much more to be done here, including facilitating meaningful open conversations about the desired long-term set-up, how to tackle the underlying causes of food poverty, and the sustainable roles of local government, VCSE sector food providers, and other stakeholders including people who have experience of food poverty (the 7th recommendation in my paper). I am therefore delighted to be able to share a job opportunity for a Food Poverty Coordinator who will join GMPA’s team and work with me to help Greater Manchester develop an effective response to food poverty, now and in the long-term.

Tom Skinner, GMPA Director writes editorial for GM Poverty Action

Tom Skinner

Tom Skinner
Director, Greater Manchester Poverty Action

 

i3oz9sSupporting food provision
read more

Mustard Tree is open

No comments

By Jack Barton

Mustard Tree is currently still open! We’re operating as key workers under the categories of food distribution and front-line services. We’re now providing an emergency food offer, supported by our volunteers – here’s George out on one of our very first deliveries.

We want to take the opportunity to say a huge THANK YOU to our partners for all your positivity and encouragement. We’ve been around for the last 25 years – combating poverty and preventing homelessness – and working to our values of Belief, Dignity, Opportunity, Diversity and Partnership. We think these values are more relevant than ever and we are committed to continuing to support people across Greater Manchester at this time.

COVID-19 response

  • We are delivering 100 emergency food parcels and Food Club items a day to vulnerable people across
    Manchester and Salford;
  • We are providing 30 essential toiletries packs a day to rough sleepers visiting our hubs in Ancoats,
    Little Hulton and Eccles;
  • We are serving 20 people a day through our onsite Food Club, which provides cost-effective food for
    families and individuals struggling to make ends meet;
  • We are offering advice and guidance for people in need coming to our hubs, including signposting to
    partners and translations of Public Health England guidance into different languages;
  • We are continuing to support vulnerable people accessing our structured vocational training project.

If you can help, you can click on either of this links to provide food donations or financial donations.

Thank you 

Mustard Tree helps people to change their lives, secure better accommodation and economic wellbeingOur focus is on tackling both the causes and consequences of poverty and homelessness. Since 1994 we have created opportunities for people to help themselves through providing practical support, friendship, connections into work and improvements to health & wellbeing, alongside new experiences to encourage aspiration.

i3oz9sMustard Tree is open
read more

Food Poverty Action Plan Year 1

No comments

Year 1 of the Greater Manchester Food Poverty Action Plan

By Tom Skinner

GMFPA logo cropped for GM Poverty AllianceIt is a year since we launched the Greater Manchester Food Poverty Action Plan with 150 people and organisations who had co-produced the Action Plan in our Food Poverty Alliance project. This article reviews the first year of progress towards the Plan’s vision, that “everyone in Greater Manchester enjoys good food and a better standard of living, and they look out for each other.”

Through the Food Poverty Alliance, 50 individuals and organisations have made over 100 pledges of action towards the Action Plan’s vision, including:

  • Apex Storage making five storage units available for individuals and businesses to donate unwanted cooking
    and gardening equipment
    that Cracking Good Food pass on to communities in need;
  • Kellogg’s reaching 70 local schools with breakfast club grants;
  • Sow the City mapping food provision in North Manchester – they have recently been commissioned to map in
    South Manchester as well, and aim to support mapping across GM;
  • The Salford Food Share Network supporting other boroughs to consider the potential for partnerships between
    food banks, food clubs and pantries, advice agencies, the council and other stakeholders;
  • Several Housing associations, councils and charities coordinating provision of food with activities for children
    and young people during school holidays.

We are working closely with most councils across GM, as well as GM Mayor Andy Burnham, the GM Combined Authority and the Health & Social Care Partnership, to discuss actions that can be taken by the public sector at the GM and borough level. For example, Tameside has:

  • established a strategic food partnership with food poverty as one of its themes;
  • included questions about food poverty in its public consultation survey and commissioned qualitative research
    to help understand how food poverty impacts residents, and the challenges for food banks and food pantries;
  • taken action (which is ongoing) to increase uptake of Healthy Start vouchers.

Another important activity has been to embed food poverty, and the Action Plan specifically, in the wider efforts to develop a comprehensive food strategy for the city region. These efforts are being led by GM’s strategic food board Good Food Greater Manchester, of which GMPA is a member. We are currently exploring how efforts to tackle food poverty can complement other sections of the food strategy, and are supporting a series of workshops to develop a cohesive and widely supported strategy.

Since the launch of the Action Plan, GMPA has seen encouraging increased interest in tackling poverty at a local level. Some local authorities are developing and implementing anti-poverty strategies, and there is significant interest in engaging people with lived experience of poverty in decision making e.g. through poverty truth commissions. We continue to campaign for employers across the city region to tackle in-work poverty by becoming accredited Living Wage Employers and signing up to the GM Good Employment Charter. There are now over 200 accredited Living Wage Employers based here, including Salford, Oldham and Manchester councils – see page 2 for more news from the GM Living Wage Campaign, another GMPA project.

Tom Skinner editorial article for GM Poverty Action

Tom Skinner, Director, GM Poverty Action

While I am delighted with the progress made in the first year of the Action Plan, there is much more to be done and GMPA remains committed to tackling food poverty and its underlying causes.

Tom Skinner,
Director, GM Poverty Action

 

i3oz9sFood Poverty Action Plan Year 1
read more

Tackling poverty: NHS

No comments

Help us to inform the way the NHS tackles poverty

On March 27th, our director Graham Whitham will be attending a workshop at the King’s Fund in London exploring what more the NHS can do to tackle poverty. The workshop will bring together a diverse group of stakeholders with knowledge, expertise and experience of working with those in poverty, people from the NHS, and those who work in partnership with it.

The NHS Long-Term Plan sets out important commitments to reducing inequalities in health.  As part of this NHS England and Improvement want to do more to understand and maximise the NHS’ role in tackling poverty. This builds on previous work, including the King’s Fund report, Tackling poverty: Making more of the NHS in England, which set out how the NHS can tackle the risk of, and mitigate the impact of poverty in many ways, from its treatment impact to its role as an economic giant in every community.

This workshop will help inform:

  • the development of practical resources for local NHS leaders and institutions
  • strengthening the strategic case for the NHS to see tackling poverty as a core issue
  • supporting the NHS to work more closely with partners on poverty, with ultimate impacts in improving the
    health of those in, or at risk of, poverty

The King’s Fund will co-host this workshop with the Equality and Health Inequalities Team at NHS England and
Improvement.

GMPA is keen to support this work, and we know there is a lot of learning from work in Greater Manchester that could help inform the conversation. With the publication of the recent Marmot: Ten years on report, it is vital that we make stronger links between health and poverty.

In order to contribute as much as we can to the workshop we are asking people in our network to share information with us in advance. Graham will feed this into the discussion on March 27th, crediting organisations and individuals where appropriate.

Graham W NHS tackling poverty article for GM Poverty Action

Graham Whitham
Director of GMPA

Please share any good examples of current or recent case studies, reports or wider work where the NHS has tackled poverty successfully with partners in Greater Manchester. If you have a report/project site/short description of the work you are doing that you would be willing to share, please email Graham  by Friday March 20th.

 

i3oz9sTackling poverty: NHS
read more

Funding for playschemes

No comments

The Greater Manchester Food Poverty Action Plan, which we launched in March, calls for concerted action to provide food with activities for children and young people during school holidays. Manchester Holiday Buzz is a great example of this, involving businesses, charities, the council and housing associations.

Manchester Holiday Buzz Playscheme Fund 2019-2020
Young Manchester is passionate about giving children and young people the opportunity to play. We know that financially disadvantaged children can experience hunger in the holidays and a holiday experience gap. Open access playschemes are one way for children to make new friends, stay active and access healthy food during the school holidays.  Playschemes offer supervised play during school holidays. Most schemes are free of charge, but some may ask for a small donation eg 50p per session.

Funding is available for the delivery of open access holiday playschemes for children and young people aged 5 – 14 years.  Closing date for applications: 5pm Friday June 14th 2019. This is for voluntary and community sector organisations working with children and young people and education providers partnering with the VCSE sector.  Organisations must be based in Manchester and/or mainly working with Manchester residents

For more information, the fund prospectus, application guidance and an application form please go to the website

 

i3oz9sFunding for playschemes
read more