Moving Onward against food poverty in the North West7 July | More Than Homes | News
Onward Homes have donated generously to the More than Homes campaign. This is in addition to the work they were already doing to support people experiencing food poverty. We caught up with Onward to find out more.
Social Housing provider Onward Homes has been helping customers, communities and local initiatives serve up solutions during lockdown.
As a housing provider, making sure our customers are safe and happy is our number one priority. A key part of this is ensuring they have enough good food on their table.
Despite things becoming a lot more challenging when lockdown hit, we’ve adapted our services in a few different ways, as well as teaming up with some fantastic local initiatives, to help those that need it most in the North West.
Onward Deputy Chief Executive Alastair Cooper said: “Food poverty is an issue that affects far too many of our customers. The pandemic has exacerbated the situation for many families, increasing both the volume and the impact of food poverty.
“To reduce the impact Onward has been working closely with organisations such as Community Shop and Open Kitchen. We have given them access to some of our own premises and facilities, recognising that they can make better use of them than us and that we will make greater impact working together than we would on own.
“This approach supports our vision – to make a positive difference in the communities we serve.”
Since coronavirus arrived one of the things that’s had the biggest impact – both on our customers and on our teams – is the introduction of automated welfare calls.
This began with automated text and voice messages to customers letting them know we’re still there for them and to reply if they needed any extra support. Colleagues would then pick up any requests that came through and get back to the caller.
To date, we’ve contacted around 66,000 customers through the programme and around 1,400 have received support, including financial and food.
For example, a customer of ours in Chorley had no food or money and was frightened to go out when the pandemic hit. We got a call from him at 3.30pm on a Friday, which meant he was potentially vulnerable over the weekend.
We managed to get in touch with the local foodbank co-ordinator who answered, despite being in the middle of a shop, and who then promised a hamper would be delivered on the Saturday by her husband.
The customer called us on Saturday lunchtime to confirm that the food had arrived and thank us for our help, saying he was very grateful.
One of our Neighbourhood Specialists has also been taking care of a poorly elderly customer that she usually visits weekly to check on as he has no friends or family.
She called him during lockdown to find he’d had a fall and had just been sent home from hospital. He had very little provisions and no basic food items, was running out of his medication and feeling very anxious.
The specialist contacted Age Concern and a few other local charities who were doing food parcels. Within a few hours he had the food essentials he needed and two further food parcels delivered.
She then contacted his GP and arranged a prescription to be sent to his chemist, who she then also rang to arrange ongoing deliveries. Age Concern now provides ongoing support and food parcels to the gentleman, and our specialist also managed to arrange daily checks from social services, as well as continuing to check in on him regularly herself.
The welfare calls started out as a way to check in on our most vulnerable customers and has grown into something much bigger, and we’ll be learning from them long after lockdown has ended.
We’ve also been providing ongoing support to Open Kitchen MCR, a waste food initiative based out of our Didsbury office in Manchester. They’ve been doing an incredible job feeding vulnerable people across Manchester during the pandemic.
One of our Regional Buildings Managers, Alison, stepped up to the plate to help them when she was forced to self-isolate at home. She began volunteering for them, putting out requests for support on LinkedIn and ringing up her contacts. Her efforts quickly paid off, seeing donations of over 18,000 teabags, 100 loaves of bread per week, a van for deliveries, several commercial fridges and much more.
Over in Liverpool, we’re proud to support the Netherley Youth and Community Initiative by helping to ensure vulnerable families across the city receive food packages during the pandemic.
Originally operating as an after-school club before the crisis, Netherley Youth and Community Initiative was founded 25 years ago and its purpose has adapted over the years to meet the needs of the local community.
As soon as the lockdown measures for the UK were announced, it quickly adapted again by providing food packages to vulnerable local families. We have offered our support by providing a van and driver to help deliver the food parcels across Liverpool, with an astonishing 200 now being delivered every week.
Last but by no means least, in December last year we announced social supermarket Community Shop had taken up residence in our Runcorn office to support our customers and the local community.
Now we’re very excited to be in the process of setting them up in our Kirkdale office too, which has just been granted planning permission, and potentially looking at further sites we can offer them.
For more information visit https://www.onward.co.uk/.