First Choice Homes Oldham (FCHO) customers have collectively saved more than £100,000 since the social landlord launched its partnership with The Bread and Butter Thing (TBBT) affordable food service.
FCHO partnered with Manchester-based food surplus redistribution charity in November 2019 to provide good quality food for a fraction of its usual price to customers in financial hardship.
The aim is to increase the amount of disposable income in customers’ pockets so they don’t have to choose between buying food, paying bills or buying other basics.
More than 1,000 FCHO customers have registered for the TBBT service, which operates four days a week from hubs across Oldham.
Customers can buy three full bags of shopping worth an average of £35 – one of fridge goods, one of cupboard staples and one full of fruit and veg – for just £7.50. Or they can double up and get six bags, worth approximately £70, for £15.
But the service is much more than just affordable food. TBBT customers can also be referred for extra support from FCHO’s specialist teams should they need it. Dedicated advisors can help with everything from managing money and applying for benefits, finding volunteering opportunities and training courses to get back into work.
Support is also available from FCHO’s Hardship Fund for those who are struggling financially and there is a home delivery option for customers who can’t leave their home because they are shielding from Covid-19 or have other mobility problems.
David McClelland has been a TBBT customer at NEON Hub since the service launched there last year and has also benefitted from wraparound support from FCHO’s Community Impact team.
He said: “The food service is good value for money. I’m pleased with what I get and it’s been well worth it.
“It’s not just food either. My advisor Annarosa has also helped me to get a debt relief order, which is a big weight off my mind. They’ve been a great help.”
FCHO Community Impact Manager, Dave Brereton, said: “Improving lives is what we’re all about and why we’ve teamed up with TBBT and invested £80,000 to make a positive difference to our customers on low incomes.
“We’ve made great strides in the eight months since we launched our partnership and our goal is to get the food service running five days a week, 52 weeks a year to a minimum of 450 of our customers every week.
“We’re very proud to have been able to help our customers save £100,000 between them so far and I’m excited to see what we can achieve in the future.”
As the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on jobs and financial security continue to be felt, Dave predicts demand for TBBT will increase.
He added: “Food poverty was already a serious issue in Oldham and the situation is likely to only get worse.
“If any of our customers are struggling and need help with food, I’d encourage them to get in touch with our Community Impact Team, which can talk to them about the support available.”
TBBT services for FCHO customers run from Wallshaw Street Community Centre on Mondays, NEON in Greenacres on Saturdays, Sholver and Moorside Community Hub on Thursdays, and ROC ‘n’ Rolls Community Cafe in Holts on Fridays.