Last week we reached a milestone. Since the start of lockdown we have prepared, cooked and delivered over fifteen thousand meals to vulnerable people and people experiencing homelessness in Manchester. We spoke to some of our staff and volunteers to hear what their thoughts are on reaching this milestone.

None of our food response would have been possible without the hard work of our team from the Beacon drop in. They had to rapidly build a system that could cook and deliver hundreds of meals a day. Ally, our Drop in Centre Manager, said that her favourite part “has been feeding and supporting families that you know are struggling, that’s the highlight, because when you get the sheets through and it's real names and real people and you know you’re helping. It’s been quite emotional so it’s been a highlight but also has quite a downside to it.

“We’ve helped families where one mother and five children are in a single room. It makes it real as you really have to wonder how they are coping and what more we can do to help. It’s hard work and I feel shattered, but it’s been brilliant to continue helping people through this. At the end of the day when the vans go out full of food it feels great knowing those meals are going out to the people who need them.”

Abi, one of our Drop in session leaders, has had to take on a completely new role and is now working with a lot more spreadsheets than she ever thought she would.: “The first few weeks were pretty intense, it’s a bit hard to comprehend how many meals we are actually doing.  It’s not been a chore though as we have a great group of volunteers and we are now working now like a well oiled machine. I might miss this when we do go back to our old roles, although that feels like a lifetime ago now.

“I hope we can carry this on for as long as people are in hotels and we are needed, I think that when we come back to the Beacon we will be able to come back stronger and better equipped to deal with the issues that will come up. I think it also shows how well we can adapt, as no one likes too much change but this has proven to us all that we can cope with any amount of change.”

Cameron and James have been volunteering in our kitchen since the start of the Lockdown and Barnabus’ involvement in Manchester City Council's emergency food response. When we told them the total, they had this to say: “That is good, really good. The thing is when you're preparing meals and you're cooking 130 at a time, that does look like a lot but when you think about doing that several times a day every day, week after week it really does add up. That’s really good going, and for a good cause too, you hear a lot of negativity about the way people act these days so it’s great to be a part of a group of dedicated people who do work hard to help others."

If you can help or if you work for a catering company that may be able to help please ask your employer to see if they can support us with donations of crisps, bottles of water, snack bars, sandwich fillings like tuna, tinned ham for cold lunches. If you’ve had to close your shop recently perhaps you could donate some of your stock.  

We need your support more than ever to get through this crisis and beyond, so if you can help financially or practically please contact [email protected].