Mayor calls on government to provide extra support to voluntary organisations during pandemic

The Greater Manchester Combined Authority has announced there will be £200k in extra funding for foodbanks in the Manchester area, with all ten districts receiving £20,000 each.

The funding was pledged after last week’s Greater Manchester COVID-19 Emergency meeting. Forever Manchester, a charity for community activity across the Manchester region, had raised £100k, which was then match-funded by the GMCA.

GMCA and Forever Manchester will be working with partners to identify recipient organisations in each borough. Funding for organisations responding to the issues caused by COVID-19 is additionally available from Forever Manchester through the Community Support Fund.

171207 Charity Food Bank

Why do foodbanks need the extra help?

Pressure is increasing on foodbanks as donations drop while demand increases. Employment situations have been changing rapidly and many people are finding themselves unable to work and are waiting to hear about Universal Credit and other benefits, meaning they rely on foodbanks to plug the gap. At the same time shoppers have been less inclined to make a donation as part of their regular shop as habits change. Many of the community groups that collect for foodbanks are no longer meeting and so have stopped donating supplies.

At the other end of the scale, foodbanks are also having to minimise their volunteer numbers as many come from at-risk groups. Foodbanks and other community groups and social enterprises are often not geared up to work from home and rely on face-to-face interaction when it comes to providing support. Social distancing rules means that their working capacity is severely undermined.

Deputy Mayor Bev Hughes said: “I’ve made this funding available to help our most vulnerable in Greater Manchester access the most basic of necessities: food. 

“It’s right that leaders across the city-region identify gaps where support is needed and I’ve heard how our foodbanks are struggling with cash flow at a time when demand is high. I hope this funding will provide some respite to the local VCSE sector and I will be looking at what more we can do to provide food supplies to those who need it.

“I would also urge the public to support their local foodbanks with cash or donations or to donate to Forever Manchester.” 

Nick Massey, Chief Executive of Forever Manchester, said: “This is a tough time for everyone but more so for those who are most vulnerable. I’m heartened to see how Greater Manchester’s VCSE sector has risen to the challenge to do what they can to help, but they can’t do it all on their own. That’s why we’ve provided funding to foodbanks so they can carry on with the important work they’re doing.” 

Andy Burnham Mayor
GM Mayor Andy Burnham

Additionally, Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham has backed the #EveryDayCounts campaign; calling on the government to provide an urgent funding package for voluntary organisations, community groups and social enterprises (known collectively as VCSE).

Burnham said: “The VCSE sector are an integral partner in the Greater Manchester response to the COVID-19 crisis in supporting our most vulnerable communities. At the same time they are struggling financially as they try and support the humanitarian effort, cope with increased demand and reorganise their ways of working – all while their usual sources of public fundraising are cut off due to social distancing rules.

“Through our statement, we’ve committed to doing our bit to help and proactively providing funding where possible. But we also need the government to provide a funding package for the survival of VCSE organisations now – just like they’ve done with the private and public sectors. That’s why I’m backing the #EveryDayCounts campaign for a settlement for the VCSE sector.”

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As well as foodbanks, many VCSE organisations are reporting increased pressure on services – advice services, mental health services, housing and financial support are all in demand. However, after a decade of underfunding, many are now operating with low or very low levels of financial reserves and are reporting worries about cash flow and medium to long-term sustainability. 

Alex Whinnom, Chief Executive, Greater Manchester Centre for Voluntary Organisations (GMCVO), said: “The sector is crying out for help to keep afloat so we can keep doing what we can when we are needed the most. There are many charities and voluntary groups in Greater Manchester having to furlough staff because they don’t have the income they need to keep going, yet they are overwhelmed with demand for their services and can’t meet everyone’s needs. I urge the government to give us the funding we desperately need so we can play our part and come out of this health crisis stronger together.”

The #EveryDayCounts campaign is calling on government to provide:

  • Emergency funding for frontline charities and volunteers supporting the response to the coronavirus crisis, especially where they are alleviating pressure on the health service or providing support to people suffering from the economic and social impact of coronavirus
  • A ‘stabilisation fund’ for all charities to help them stay afloat, pay staff and continue operating during the course of the pandemic
  • Confirmation that charities should be eligible for similar business interruption measures announced by the chancellor for businesses. You can read more here

  • Streford foodbank has launched a crowdfunder to help with its essential work
  • You can donate to Forever Manchester here

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