John is one of up to 20 offenders a day helping a charity pack food for the region’s vulnerable.
Every member of The Bread and Butter Thing (TBBT) receives three bags of quality shopping for £7.50. Food donated by supermarkets from across Manchester and Trafford is collected and driven to the organisation’s warehouse where it is sorted and packed and shipped out to hubs across the region.
TBBT launched in 2016 to provide a sustainable source of groceries for people struggling to balance the household budget. COVID-19 is causing added hardship to a food distribution system that was already struggling.
The Cheshire & Greater Manchester Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC) became involved when lockdown first occurred in March. As Community Payback was paused as a result of the need to abide by UK Government guidance in relation to social distancing, the CRC’s staff and vans were invited to support the city’s food distribution efforts.
John, who is 32 and has 260 hours of unpaid work to complete, said: “It’s hard work, there’s lots of lifting, but my girlfriend once benefited from food like this when she was in need and so I know exactly how important this is.
“I’m proud to be part of a team that’s working to support the vulnerable.”
Adam Powsney, Community Payback coordinator for the CRC, was one of several colleagues to work with the charity during that period and offered the support of people carrying out unpaid work orders once the situation permitted it.
Now offenders carry out their unpaid work orders five-days-a-week at the Trafford-based warehouse.
Adam said: “This is one of the best projects I’ve been involved in since joining probation 16-years-ago.
“Our service users buy-in to the charity’s excellent ethos, they are made to feel 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 vulnerable and that gives them pride in what they are doing.”
Community Payback compliance rates on the project are up to 15 per cent higher than the regional average.
TBBT redistributes surplus food and repackages it into affordable food parcels and deliver it to hubs used by members who can then access extra support during their visit provided by a range of organisations.
Mark Game, TBBT’s CEO said: “We have more than 200 people each week who support us to pack the groceries and shopping that we then distribute to our members via the hubs.
“Each and every one of our people – whether paid, volunteer or probation – are all part of one team and are collectively doing a fantastic job. Their efforts are directly supporting people across Greater Manchester and we are deeply appreciative of their efforts.
“Obviously COVID-19 has created extra pressures for us. Some of our regular volunteers are isolating and it has also dramatically increased demand, so we are delighted to receive support from people on Community Payback and the Cheshire & Greater Manchester CRC.”
- The photo is of CGM CRC’s Community Payback supervisor Ronnie Shaw at TBBT.