East Stand window at Old Trafford

How United are tackling food poverty in Manchester

Monday 15 June 2020 14:01

Food poverty is a growing issue across Greater Manchester and there has been a significant increase in the demand for donated food during the coronavirus crisis. Through no fault of their own, many families have been affected during this unprecedented situation.

The club and Manchester United Foundation have been working in the Greater Manchester community with the Audacious Foundation, Mustard Tree and the Trussell Trust, to help tackle this growing issue and support those most in need.
At the beginning of the crisis, as part of #ACITYUNITED, the Foundation donated £50,000 to the Trussell Trust, a network of over 1,200 food bank centres, including 19 in Greater Manchester.
The club and the Foundation have also been busy delivering up to 30,000 food and drink items to local groups and charities dealing with the impact of the pandemic, including Stretford Food Bank and Salford Royal Hospital.
Most recently, the Foundation committed £100,000 of funding to be used to purchase bulk supplies, which are delivered to a number of local food banks and food clubs, including Mustard Tree. For over 25 years, Mustard Tree has been tackling both the causes and consequences of poverty, and working to prevent homelessness across Manchester and Salford.
John Shiels is the chief executive of Manchester United Foundation and has witnessed first-hand the difficulties that some families in Greater Manchester are going through during this difficult time. Shiels said: “It is a fundamental human right to have access to food. Lack of food in people’s daily lives leads to multiple health and social issues. Our aim is to ensure we can provide a decent meal for as many people as possible, thereby giving them some hope and motivation for the future.”
As area manager for Greater Manchester at the Trussell Trust, Gareth Duffield has observed the full impact of the coronavirus pandemic and is seeing more people than ever needing help from food banks. Duffield said: “We’re incredibly grateful for the support Manchester United and Manchester City have shown towards food banks, as donations like this have allowed volunteers to not only restock food supplies, but also purchase vital items such as personal protection equipment to ensure the safety of everyone at the food bank.”
Jo Walby is the Chief Executive of Mustard Tree and she has been inundated with messages of appreciation from those who have received support. Walby said: “There has been an outpouring of appreciation and relief. We have received thank you cards, text messages, drawings and paintings, as well as lots of support via the phone. We have had people who received parcels in the early weeks of the lockdown who then sorted out their wages and then donated goods back to us six weeks later!”
Stuart Keir, the Chief Executive of Audacious Foundation, has experienced the incredible response from the community. Keir said: “Our partnership with Manchester United has definitely helped us go further into the community than we have been before. We have been able to support local schools as well as the community around us.”
Foundation chief John Shiels and Jo Walby of Mustard Tree are helping to get food to those who need it.
The Foundation’s commitment to food banks during the crisis builds on the excellent work of the Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST), which usually operates a matchday drop-off point on Sir Matt Busby Way for fans to make food bank donations.
As a result of the coronavirus crisis, MUST has turned to online cash donations and prize draw fundraising. Duncan Drasdo, CEO of MUST said: "We discussed the issues for food banks with the club and were delighted when Manchester United offered to donate £50,000 to the fundraising appeal. United did not stop there though and continue to support the community in many ways. We know, from our own surveys, that this has gone down extremely well with fans. Many have praised the club's response and we want to restate our appreciation too. It is fair to say United's response has made many of us feel proud of the club and it stands out as the very best in the Premier League. Hopefully we'll soon be back in that leading position on the pitch too!"
Fans wishing to contribute to the latest MUST prize draw fundraiser to raise money for food banks in Greater Manchester can do so by visiting: https://www.imust.org.uk/Competition.