Community Payback helping feed the vulnerable

People on Community Payback are packing and distributing fruit and veg to help people in need across Greater Manchester.

Up to eight service users carrying out unpaid work sentences made by the courts are assigned across a four-day week at EMERGE 3R’s FareShare GM warehouse, at New Smithfield Market in Openshaw, Manchester.

The warehouse collects food and re-distributes it to charities who in-turn support families across the region who are struggling to make ends meet.

The Cheshire & Greater Manchester Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC) became involved during the summer, but from September ramped up services by providing people on their unpaid work orders on a regular basis.

Adam Powsney, Community Payback coordinator for the CRC, helped organise the placement, which is one of two that the CRC is backing.

He said: “The two projects that involve our service users supporting people in need are the best initiatives that I’ve been involved in since joining probation 16-years-ago.

“Our service users are an integral part of the team and treated exactly the same as volunteers and paid staff.

“Unpaid work should always be about giving people tasks that benefit their local community and develop their skills. On this project our service users know their efforts are directly supporting Greater Manchester’s most in need and that gives them pride in what they are doing.”

Liz Lauder, Volunteer & Employability Programmes Manager, said “Thanks to the service user teams, during the last three months, we’ve been able to rescue 15 tonnes of much needed fruit and vegetables. The teams benefit by seeing the produce they have prepared being quickly allocated for much needed meals.”

Richard Walters, Community Payback supervisor, manages service users at the site.

He said: “We go through the fruit and veg that is surplus to requirements at the market and pack the good stuff – and it is really good stuff – into boxes and pallets so that it can be collected by organisations for onward distribution.

“Our service users understand that their efforts are helping people in need and helping the environment by diverting food from landfill. It’s a win-win.”

Community Payback compliance rates on the project are up to 15 per cent higher than the regional average.

FareShare Greater Manchester run by the environmental charity EMERGE 3Rs redistributed 1,000 tonnes of food to over 230 organisations. The fruit and vegetable diversion work is funded by WRAP.