How these Middleton community groups used their Food for Life Get Togethers funding to respond to Covid-19

Date published: 05 January 2021


Two Middleton community groups - Burnside Community Centre and Status4All – have spent many months supporting the local community to grow their own food, thanks to funding.

In response to Covid-19, Food for Life Get Togethers last year awarded multiple crisis small grants to local organisations across the North of England to provide volunteer support with food and growing: making people happier and healthier using good food, by putting community on the menu and connecting people of all ages and backgrounds.

The grants have been powering local initiatives such as providing fresh food supplies for low-income households, supplying growing kits to enable people to grow their own food when self-isolating, and online cookery classes so that families can learn to cook from scratch in a fun, engaging way. 

 

A cookalong filmed at the Burnside Centre
A cookalong filmed at the Burnside Centre

 

The Burnside Community Centre used their fund to create live shows for members of their community to continue their cooking demonstrations as the centre had to close to the public.
 


Kaireen, the project development coordinator at the Burnside centre said: “We were fortunate to receive a small grant from Food For Life Get Togethers which we applied for in April 2020. This meant that as soon as our centre opened at the beginning of May, we were able to set up our food delivery service.

“Initially the project was to run for 12 weeks offering freshly cooked hot meals to those most vulnerable on the Langley estate, alongside online cooking demonstrations.

“We also worked in partnership with Fareshare which meant we could deliver a hot meal and a food parcel to those who needed it most.

“Throughout the 12 weeks which was supported by Food For Life Get Togethers we helped over 100 individuals and provided around 550 hot meals to families struggling financially, or vulnerable and socially isolated adults.

“The Food For Life Get Togethers grant kick-started a project that grew larger than we could have ever anticipated. The project was due to end in August however it was clear to us that the need for the project was still there, if not growing.

“We made it our priority to continue to source funding for this project to allow it to continue which would not have been possible without the initial grant from FFL.

“The grant allowed us to devote staff time to create and cook recipes, to fund resources for the kitchen and buy the all-important fresh ingredients.

“We were supported along the way by Sarah-Beth [of Get Together] and we are grateful to her for reaching out to us about this opportunity which has allowed our project to grow into what it is today.”

You can watch back the weekly cooking demonstrations via the Burnside Centre's Facebook page.

Status 4 All received funding to create a series of ‘How To’ videos to create tools for the garden using ‘household waste’.

Producing five videos through a collaboration with Vicky Lomax from Jamboree Puppetry Workshops, to encourage their community to make their tools to start growing at home, the Status 4 All allotments are a fantastic space for local residents to enjoy growing and sharing harvests.

You can watch the How To videos via Jamboree Puppetry Workshop's Facebook page.

During the pandemic volunteers have been working to create their first Incredible Edible plot for local youth to connect and grow vegetables at the allotments.

Sue Smith shares more about the local collaborations taking place: “We at Status 4 All and Bowlee Community Association (BCA) (The Pavilion) have found dealing with the Covid situation stressful, but very rewarding.

“We have managed to build up a team of amazing volunteers who are dedicated to their community. We have also seen our partnerships grow for the better and, by using media channels, have managed to keep in touch and up to date.

“The main focus has been to try and get ourselves some core funding so that we can develop and grow into a Community Benefits Society, but as we all know, it’s become a tiring challenge.

“The changes have enabled us to focus on what we really are about, grow, cook and eating including educating our children and young people on the benefits of growing your own produce and cooking it."

 

Allotments at Status 4 All

 

Sue added: “BCA is now linked into local schools and are delivering alternative education sessions which include, gardening, cooking, growing, IT, media, music, walking groups  and focusing on local history projects.

“We are being supported by RMBC, The Soil Association / Food For Life Get Togethers, Action Together and have become Bowlee Incredible Edible.

“Get Togethers have been a huge support to us in many ways especially providing us with hints and tips on organic growing and we did do a few activities based on collaborating different generations to work together.”

Sarah-Beth Cooper, Get Togethers’ Engagement Officer in Greater Manchester presented at an Action Together #WednesdaysWeekly hour-long webinar to celebrate these leaders of community food growing, cooking and sharing activities achieved in 2020 across Rochdale.

This live event was an opportunity to premiere two films Sarah-Beth filmed, a snapshot of the work that both these organisations has achieved for the benefit of their community.

The funding for the emergency grants came from The National Lottery Community Fund and in total, 70 grants of £1,000 were awarded to local organisations across the UK for Covid-19 response actions.

 

 

To get involved with a Get Togethers activity in your area, or to find out more about online training, virtual networks and accessing resources for community food activities, email Sarah-Beth Cooper, Engagement Officer for Food for Life, on SBCooper@soilassociation.org

For more information about Burnside or Status 4 All, please visit: 

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