Food & Wellbeing

Growing food for community use

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By Kalwant Gill-Faci

GMPA’s Greater Manchester Food Poverty Action Plan calls for more food to be grown in GM communities, for sharing with people in need across the city region. In this article Kal Gill-Faci shows what can be done with even a relatively small plot of land.

At the launch of the Greater Manchester Food Poverty Action plan in March this year, I was volunteering at the charity Pledge and I pledged to continue my work helping homeless people and those suffering food poverty through my allotment in Trafford. This year we took on another half plot which we dedicated 100% for growing exclusively to donate to charities that support those in need.

Kalwant Gill-Faci photo for GM Poverty Action

Kalwant Gill-Faci

The Plot for Poverty (Plot 7F) located at Humphrey Park Allotments in Stretford grows fruit and vegetables exclusively for donations and this year we partnered with the charity Reach out to the Community.

Weekly donations were delivered between mid-June to mid-November to the shop where food parcels are made up and handed out. A women-only hostel also received donations this year. Work on the plot is carried out all year round with the busiest months being February to August. I am ably assisted by my 2 children and my nephew’s son and their contribution has been a massive help!

This is the third year that this work has continued and each year the donations have increased. In addition, we received a grant of approximately £500 from Trafford Housing Trusts’ Social Investment Fund which was used to purchase much needed tools, materials and gardening supplies.

I also collect donations from the wider allotment community at Humphrey Park Allotments for distribution and the result is a car boot load almost every week!

This year we helped to provide an estimated 500+ food parcels during the 5-month period of donations.

I continue to share my work as much as possible through social media and speaking at conferences and events.

For any questions or enquiries about my work please send me an email

 

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Bite Back 2030

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Bite Back 2030 is building a powerful movement of young people who want everyone to be given the opportunity to be healthy, no matter where we live.

Why? We are all up against a flood of unhealthy food, pouring out from fast food outlets, supermarket shelves and school canteens.  As a result 3.3 million children are overweight and the UK has the worst childhood obesity rates in Western Europe

Bite Back 2030 want to close the floodgates but they believe we need to act now.  They want to stem the tide of unhealthy foods and improve the flow of affordable, healthy options for young people. Bite Back 2030 exists to make sure this happens.

Bite Back video image for GM Poverty ActionBite Back 2030 filmed a social experiment that highlights the deliberate tactics used by the food industry to target young people with unhealthy options.

They also held a launch event with many celebrities and potential influencers attending. Follow their campaign on Facebook and Twitter

 

About Bite Back:

We are here for young people who want to know the truth about how the food system is designed; how we can redesign it to put young people’s health first; and build a powerful alliance that will help make that redesign a reality.

At the heart of Bite Back 2030 is our Youth Board – a team of passionate teenage activists from across the UK who are campaigning for more opportunities to be healthy – and they would love you to join them!

We want to build a movement of young people who can get the big players in business and government to listen and act on a very important topic – your right to health.

We’ve been shocked at the injustices we’ve discovered so far, so we’ve teamed up with some inspirational people to do something about it.

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Pre-Christmas food collection

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Why does this collection happen now every year?

Christmas is only three weeks away. No doubt many people are looking forward to the festive season, perhaps some days off work, time with close family including excited small children and some treats for everyone.  That is how its supposed to be but for too many people it’s becoming increasingly difficult, with more than ever expected to need to use a food bank.  Data released earlier this year shows April to September 2019 to be the busiest half-year period since the charity opened. During the six months, 823,145 three-day emergency food parcels were given to people in crisis in the UK; more than a third of these (301,653) went to children. This is a 23% increase on the same period in 2018 – the sharpest rate of increase the charity has seen for the past five years.

Record food collection for Stockport food banks


For 3 days at the end of November a team of volunteers from Stockport Foodbank ably supported by corporate volunteers from Astra Zenica and the Co-op Bank Manchester, received food donations from Tesco customers.

Collection at Tesco November 2019 for GM Poverty ActionOver the 3 collecting days, a massive 6800kgs of food was donated, enough food for about 7500 meals which has now replenished the food bank warehouse in time for the ‘Christmas rush’.

Stockport Foodbank Manager, Nigel Tedford, said, “We have been so humbled by the generosity of people particularly at this time of economic uncertainty.  The donations that we have received will help us to meet the increase in food bank demand which we expect at this time of the year and our thanks must be expressed to all the Tesco customers for every tin and every packet.  We hope that this level of generosity was matched all across the country.”

Details about Stockport Foodbank can be obtained from their website or Facebook page.

For more information about the Greater Manchester Food Poverty Alliance please visit this page.

 

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Kellogg’s Breakfast Clubs

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Last chance for Greater Manchester school breakfast clubs to get £1000

Kellogg’s has been supporting school breakfast clubs in the UK since 1998. The growth and success of these clubs
is a testament to the benefits they bring including attendance, attainment, alleviating hunger and providing
pre-school care.

We offer grants of £1000 and the funding can be spent on anything that help schools provide breakfast, whether that’s crockery, cutlery, arts and crafts, books or food.

The funding window is about to close so apply by the end of November 2019. All you need to do is visit the Kellogg’s website here and go to the grants for schools section to fill in a short application form. This only takes a maximum of ten minutes.

The Kellogg’s Breakfast Club team

 

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Healthy Holiday Voucher Scheme

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by Kenny Flint, Health Improvement Service, Salford City Council

GMPA’s Greater Manchester Food Poverty Action Plan calls for boroughs to support and coordinate provision of activities with food during school holidays, and we are pleased to share stories and good practice such as Salford’s Healthy Holiday Voucher Scheme.

Salford City Council delivered a food voucher scheme during July and August 2019, to offer help and support for some of the most vulnerable families in Salford who access the current system of free school meals. This was developed to complement the existing programmes of summer play schemes and Save for Summer, which were delivered by Salford Community Leisure, Integrated Youth Support, Life Centre, VCSE’s and other partners. The Healthy Holiday Voucher Scheme was funded by the Health Improvement Service, Salford Assist and the Booth Charity.

The issue of ‘Holiday Hunger’ has been significantly increasing in recent years with many charities reporting that the pressure on food banks has doubled during school holidays. Children who would usually be entitled to free school meals cannot access them during the holidays. There is evidence to suggest that many children are regularly skipping meals, which has a detrimental impact upon their behaviour and cognitive development. Many families in Salford are forced to face the choice of heating their home or feeding their children.

Families who met certain criteria were provided with an ALDI voucher equating to an additional £30 per child, to help during the 6 weeks of the summer holidays. ALDI was the chosen supplier as the organisation has an existing agreement with the company via Salford Assist, Salford’s local welfare assistance scheme

We contacted eligible parents via school communication systems and social media, and required completion of an application form and an eligibility assessment conducted by the Health Improvement Service. After this assessment, the parent and most accessible neighbourhood Gateway were notified of the successful application and given a unique ID number. Upon production of the unique ID number and a form of ID at the chosen Gateway, the parent was then issued with the vouchers. Over 70% of residents found the application process for the scheme ‘Very Easy’ to complete and just under 70% found it ‘Very Easy’ to collect the vouchers. Some of the feedback can be viewed below.

I found the scheme very easy and of course every little helps with hungry mouths to feed so thank you.”

“It helped me and my family out massively, thank you. Due to my household being on a low income, buying food is a struggle, especially in the school holidays. So this was very much appreciated by family.”

“Single mum of two teen daughters on ESA so massively helped with the grocery shop during the school holidays as the girls want to snack and eat more when home all day. Enabled me to buy extra fruit and keep freezer stocked up. Thank you for the support during this time very much appreciated.”

“I think this scheme has been very helpful! You don’t realise how much extra shopping you need for children when they are not in school. I would definitely apply again if I got the chance to. Thank you also for providing this service.”

“Just helps people who are on low income and not only on low income but the way everything’s going up it makes life a little better to be offered help, I’m in the middle of moving too and it’s help me a lot to buy food for the children.”

“Being a single mum of 2 and struggling at the best of times. This really helped feed the extra hungry pair all day and night whilst still leaving me with money to be able to take them out to have fun.”

“Bought activity sets as well as lunch for my 5 year old with ASD. Keeps him happy in the afternoons on rainy days.”

Kenny Flint healthy holiday vouchers for GM Poverty Action

Kenny Flint

Recommendations given to streamline the scheme were to review the process of assessing eligibility to ensure it is quicker and more accurate. This would include greater clarity on the eligibility criteria in relation to Salford residency, or attending a Salford school. Similarly, greater clarity in relation to children attending nursery, such as an Excel formula to quickly calculate from a date of birth if someone is eligible. This could be achieved by creating a bespoke database.

As of September 2019, during the 8-week period there were just over 2,100 applications to the Healthy Holiday Scheme, resulting in a total of 3,667 children being supported. This is 42% of all the children in Salford who are eligible for free school meals. Salford City Council would like to continue the scheme next year.

More information about the Healthy Holiday Voucher scheme

 

 

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Christmas Hampers

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Urban Outreach Bolton for GM POverty Action organisations

Everyone should experience a little joy at Christmas, but for many it can be a sad time. Loneliness, bereavement, family breakdown or just having too little money to celebrate are some of the reasons. So with the help and support of many individuals and agencies, this project is able to provide hampers to many who are struggling. The hampers contain everything that an individual or family needs to put on a traditional Christmas spread – right down to mince pies and Christmas crackers!

How it works:

Each Autumn Urban Outreach touch base with all those who have previously supported the project. They ask schools, churches, businesses and other groups to consider making a pledge to collect specific items used to make up the hampers.

We also depend upon the generosity of many individuals and organisations who donate the money we need to purchase fresh items for the hampers. This includes fruit and vegetables – not forgetting the chicken!

In the weeks leading up to Christmas, agencies workers are invited to nominate Bolton individuals and families to receive a hamper. Then just before distribution day our volunteers get stuck into preparing the hampers.

Urban Outreach Christmas Hampers in Bolton for GM Poverty ActionIt all gets very hectic as they finalise preparations and get all the hampers delivered in time. None of this would be possible without the support of many agency workers who call to collect and deliver hampers to the doorstep of those they have nominated. It’s hard work – but very rewarding for all concerned. The appreciation shown by hamper recipients can be overwhelming!

When we arrived to collect the parcels, seeing all the volunteers restored my faith in society. I went out delivering the parcels and the response was inspiring. All four families were overwhelmed with your kindness and couldn’t thank us enough for delivering the parcels.”

Each year the project has benefited from many sources of support which has ensured that they have been able to cover most of our direct costs. They are grateful to all of these including Bolton Council, Bolton at Home, Seddon construction, churches and businesses across Bolton and many individual donors. If you are able to supply items or funding for the hampers or want to know more please get in touch.

Urban Outreach would like to thank everyone for their continuing support!

 

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Learn to cook

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Cracking Good Food have secured MAES (Manchester Adult Education Service)  part EU funding to deliver 10-week, cooking programmes, three times, in four hostels across Manchester. A total of 120 cooking sessions, each lasting 3 hours. As part of their role within Greater Manchester Food Poverty Alliance, their mission is to enable as many communities as possible to have the opportunity to learn to cook. This they feel, provides that much needed opportunity. It is for volunteers and community support workers in the public, third and voluntary sector.

The programme requires a 10 week commitment which many vulnerable residents are unable to provide. They have therefore been granted permission to widen the reach, enabling community members (only with DBS clearance), to guarantee full groups. This is FREE in-house training for which they can provide CPD certificates.  Cracking Good Food will then be able to help support these community members, at a later stage, to roll out cooking in their community. Get in touch to find out more.

The courses will run with a minimum of 10, maximum of 20 people. Participants need to be able to commit to the full 10 week course. All food and protective clothing is provided as well as full e-recipe and idea sheets which can be photographed using a phone. An application form needs to be completed with an Individual learning plan.

The programmes will be run follows:
Chorlton:        Programme 1. Wednesdays October 2nd – 8 December 8th, 2019.     6-9pm.
Chorlton:        Programme 2. Wednesdays January 8th – March18th, 2020  6-9pm
Fallowfield:     Programme 1. Wednesdays Oct 30th, 2019 – January 15th, 2020      11- 2pm.
Ancoats:          Programme 1. Tuesdays November 12th, 2019 – January 28th, 2020      11-2pm.
Ardwick.          Programme 1. Wednesdays November 20th, 2019 – February 5th, 2020       3 – 6pm. Women ONLY.

Menus for the programme include curries, rice, pasta, stews, pizzas, soups, noodles, breads, pastry and vegetarian.

Booking onto a course online can be done here but please also email Sarah with a copy of your DBS stating which course you would like to attend.

Cracking Good Food’s Call Out for Unwanted Cooking and Gardening Equipment has enabled them to equip the kitchens with the majority of what is needed. There are four Apex Storage units (in-kind donation) across Manchester where some donations are still being stored. If you can help with the appeal for more equipment or need equipment then do let them know.

For  further information please contact Adele Jordan

MAES funding logo strip for GM Poverty Action

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National Action needed to end food poverty

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by Tom Skinner

As regular readers of this newsletter will know, GMPA coordinates the Greater Manchester Food Poverty Alliance, and launched the Food Poverty Action Plan for Greater Manchester earlier this year. The Action Plan describes how we should work together (and in many cases, already are working together) at the local level to help address food poverty.

However, the Plan recognises that the power we have to address poverty at the local level is limited, and that many of the levers such as the welfare system, minimum wages, pensions, and funding for local authorities and public health, are held at the national level. We need wholehearted and strategic support at the national level for ending food insecurity, by addressing the underlying causes of poverty as well as improving access to good food.

We were therefore pleased to have the chance to submit evidence to the House of Lords Select Committee on Food, Poverty, Health and the Environment.

We shared insights from across the Alliance, academics and people experiencing poverty, and pointed to a great deal of good practice being carried out by councils and other organisations across Greater Manchester. On the role of the UK Government we said,

“Things need to change. Wages and benefits haven’t kept up with living costs while essential public services
have been cut, so hard-stretched communities are picking up the pieces with responses that are well-intentioned
and vital, but inadequate. The burden of mitigating food insecurity is falling on the wrong sector, with food
banks struggling to retain volunteers (many of whom are older), and unable to meet the overwhelming need
of so many people in their communities. While efforts are made in some cases to offer “wrap-around support”
such as debt and welfare advice alongside food provision, these efforts are undermined by cuts to those
(and other) services. At a time when the Government should take responsibility for ensuring a right to food, it has stepped
back and left the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector to take on an impossible task.”

We called on the Government to enshrine a right to food in UK law by embedding the Sustainable Development Goal “zero hunger by 2030” into domestic legislation, and appointing a minister responsible for meeting this goal. We also listed a number of other actions that could be taken at the national level, including:

  • Raising the minimum wage to the Real Living Wage for all workers over 18. In the interim, or if this is not possible for all sectors/employers, full support should be given to the Real Living Wage as a voluntary scheme for employers to sign up to, while ending exploitative practices associated with zero hours contracts.
  • Ensuring that the welfare system, including pensions, provides enough for people and families to live on. The system should engage with claimants to understand their needs and build support around them. Reinstate ring-fenced and increased budgets for Local Welfare Assistance Schemes for when people fall through the gaps in the welfare system.
  • Increasing levels of social and affordable housing.
  • Requiring local authorities to have poverty strategies in place (co-produced with people experiencing poverty, the VCSE sector and other partners), and to appoint lead members who will take responsibility for the implementation of these strategies.
  • Action to address food deserts and the poverty premium
  • More support and emphasis on the Healthy Start scheme, targets for each area to increase uptake.
  • Measuring food insecurity at the national and local level
  • Involving people experiencing poverty, and the public, VCSE and private sectors in an “exit strategy” for over-reliance on food banks
Tom Skinner editorial article for GM Poverty Action

Tom Skinner, GMPA Director

You can see the full submission here and comment here by signing up to the Greater Manchester Food Forum – we would welcome your feedback as we continue to learn together.

 


    
                                            

 

 

You may have noticed the new Food Poverty Alliance logo – we hope you like it!
The Food Poverty Alliance is a Greater Manchester Poverty Action project

 

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Increasing access to health support in Salford

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Outreach and Engagement Approaches
by Angela Eden, Health Improvement Manager

Salford Health Improvement Service is a frontline, neighbourhood based health and wellbeing service which delivers a broad range of community initiatives to help people make behaviour changes. Our core areas of work most often cover areas such as smoking, weight support, healthy eating, physical activity and mental health. However, more recently the service has worked closely with our partner services within the City Council to develop a sustained programme of outreach and engagement work to help to tackle poverty directly within Salford’s most socio-economically deprived communities. There have been two key campaigns over the preceding 12 months, one called Better Off (focused on increasing access to anti-poverty services within the most socio-economically deprived communities), and one focussed on increasing uptake of the Pension Credit benefit.

There are 30 frontline staff with the Health Improvement Service who have strong networks and trusted relationships within the local communities in which they work. These staff have a history of successfully delivering campaigns and brief interventions. This meant that the service was ideally placed to get the key messages out to local residents to help them to make small, but often significant changes to their financial and economic situation.

Better Off
‘Better Off Salford’ Health Bus campaign, was delivered over eight dates, with the health bus visiting two venues per date. This was delivered alongside our partners in Welfare Rights and Debt Advice and Housing. During this time over 150 conversations took place with residents within their own community about the topics of Emergency Financial Support, Benefits Advice, Managing Debt, Health and Wellbeing and Housing. During the campaign 120 referrals were made to other Anti-Poverty services.

Below is some feedback from staff involved in the delivery of the campaign:

‘I have had the bailiffs put on hold and agreed an affordable repayment plan’ (Debt Adviser)

‘I helped him apply for council tax reduction online – now in payment and applied to the council tax bill set up for him and his wife – pointed him to apply online for a discretionary housing payment. Also gave advice for Salford Home Search, as he wanted a social housing property and he also spoke with Housing Options who were on the bus, he spoke to the Credit Union lady who also runs a job club about applying for jobs online and with Universal Credit’ (Claims Management Officer)

‘I carried out a check the next day and identified entitlement to Employment Support allowance of £73.10 per week and Tax Credits (husband works) of £89 per week. Overall she will be £162 better off each week as a result of the visit to the bus’ ( Welfare Rights Officer)

‘We had a chap with very significant mental health issues who had been offered a flat but as the landlord could not contact him the application had been cancelled. The customer was unaware of all this until he attended the bus and after some emails we agreed to reinstate his application due to the issues he currently faces. This man was very agitated when he first presented to the bus and as we managed to resolve this situation he left the bus a much happier man. He in fact liked all the staff so much he stayed with us the whole afternoon and engaged with other customers. If the bus had not been there then he would not have known his home search situation. We managed to resolve this and this made him much happier with SCC services’ (Supported Tenancy Officer)

Pension Credit
There are almost 6,000 individuals in Salford who are not claiming Pension Credit, but are entitled to it. Eligibility for this benefit opens up opportunities for other areas of financial support. It is estimated that there is as much as £12 million unclaimed Pension Credit in the city. Current changes to the Welfare system nationally will mean that if people don’t claim soon then they may miss out permanently, so there was some urgency to this work.

The Health Improvement Service worked in collaboration with our Welfare Rights and Debt Advice service, our Council Tax Benefits team and DWP to deliver an outreach and engagement campaign to encourage take up of the Pension Credit benefit by residents who may be missing out. The campaign focussed on busting myths about eligibility and how simple it is to make a claim. Welfare Rights and Debt Advice Services provided training and resources to the Health Improvement Staff to ensure they were confident in supporting residents to apply for Pension Credit.

Health: Increasing Access to Support in Salford – Outreach and Engagement Approaches by Angela Eden for GM Poverty Action

Angela Eden

Over 1000 conversations took place with individuals to take up Pension Credit during April and May 2019 in a range of community venues, and on the Health Improvement Bus. Targeted engagement took place with the Muslim and Jewish communities, where uptake of Pension Credit is currently even lower than the Salford average.

For more information please contact  Angela Eden

 

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Miles Platting Community Grocer

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Food clubs go by many names such as food pantries, social supermarkets and community grocers. What they have in common is a membership scheme by which people pay a small amount and are able to choose from a wide range of foods of a much greater value. You can read more about them, and other forms of community food retail, in Food Power’s briefing. The Greater Manchester Food Poverty Action Plan calls for more food clubs to be established across Greater Manchester, and we are pleased to share success stories and good practice such as the Miles Platting Community Grocer. 

“I think the stigma around people going to a community grocer is still there. In fact, I know it is and a lot of people wouldn’t go. I’ve told everybody about this place and how amazing it is. When you walk through the door no one stares at you; it’s welcoming and friendly.” says member Debbie

Miles Platting Community Grocer volunteers Bridget and Dot for GM Poverty Action

Community Grocer volunteers Bridget and Dot

The Community Grocer has taken root in Miles Platting since it opened in 2017 with investment from Adactus Housing, with a team of local dedicated local residents who wanted to help others, improve themselves and make Miles Platting a better place to live. The grocer is more than just a shop, it has empowered residents to get involved in other activities such as cooking courses with a focus on healthy eating, encouraging people to get creative and to experiment with food. It’s a place that brings the community together, where people can catch up over a cup of tea or get stuck in and volunteer. It also has its own Savers group set up and run by the Community Grocer volunteers who help each other to save money.

“Miles Platting Community Grocer was set up not only to address food poverty, but to help people make friends, connect people into activities, training, volunteering and partner services.” Rich Browning, Chief Executive, Healthy Me Healthy Communities

Miles Platting Community Grocer: Niall for GM Poverty Action

Niall

“I started coming on one particular week when I was really strapped for cash for buying food. The bills had come in and my wage was low because I’d been off sick. So, I went and signed up as a member and did my shop. Just that little bit gets you through that week. I’ve been coming here for three months and from my weekly trip I have a fully stocked cupboard of essentials, whether that be pasta, rice, beans, tins of soup and veg which you can always make something of.  You always get a potato and fresh fruit which is good and it’s healthy.” Niall

Miles Platting has had a large amount of change over the last few years, it has seen new residents come into the area, new houses being built, but also a change in local amenities. The Community Grocer provides an essential space for the community to meet, bringing people together and giving local people an opportunity to access projects, training and advice. The grocer has been supported by the Adactus Housing Association enabling the volunteers to provide this essential community-run project.

Miles Platting Community Grocer: Eric for GM Poverty Action

Eric

“I enjoyed the opportunity to participate, via the social group created by our Community Grocers. It was a good way to pool experiences and learn about aspects of our area, from the last days of its industrial past up to the rapidly changing present. Mapping the results means that this history has been formally recorded for current and future interest, rather than being lost.” Eric

The Community Grocers, part of Healthy Me Healthy Communities working in partnership with neighbourhood groups, residents and services, are a network of food projects across Manchester improving access to healthy food options, volunteering, training and improving access to existing services. The grocers also provide opportunities for local residents to get involved in different community projects.  Funded by The Lottery and with investment from MHCC and GMMH Trust, they are soon to open a new community food centre and new food projects.

Healthy me Healthy Communities logo for GM Poverty ActionFor more information please visit Healthy Me Healthy Communities website

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