Due to Covid-19, many of these services were brought to an abrupt halt, Amanda MV Operations Manager explains, “we couldn’t have any face to face contact with the parents, which resulted in us just sending emails out instead to check-up on them regularly, and trying to support them that way. We sent out messages of encouragement and snippets of information and strategies that we’d worked on previously, but of course it wasn’t quite the same”.
Amanda says it became very evident after speaking with some parents that support with food was becoming a need, “most of the people we work with are single parents and they often won’t want to take their children out to the shops with them, or of course leave them home alone. So we began a food distribution service as a response to the Covid-19 conditions. We’ve had to apply for more funding so that we can continue for the next 6 months too, as we just don’t see the issue being resolved any time soon”.
Mothers Voices have been receiving food from FareShare Midlands since the beginning of June as a response to Covid-19. “One of the wonderful things about receiving such a mixture of food from FareShare is, we’re getting parents to try food that they would not normally buy. A lot of families may not have liked the tinned tomatoes or sweetcorn, but after tasting them they’re now actually requesting these items! They realised that these tinned items are lasting them much longer than fresh produce, and being able to give them the option of both is great from our perspective”.
The organisation has been using FareShare food to create food parcels and Open Kitchens UK meals are included in the parcels where possible. The parcels are then collected by parents, and some parents have even volunteered to drop off parcels to others who were unable to collect.
Amanda says there has been some misconceptions around food bank services, “many people see food banks as places for people that are in absolute need, and yes of course they are used for this, but some of these families that are now newly struggling due to being furloughed or loss of jobs, feel as though they maybe they shouldn’t access these resources. Because of this, we’re really trying to get out the message that everybody can use a helping hand from time to time, and that there are no restrictions on who can use food banks”.
Amanda shares some feedback regarding the Open Kitchens UK meals, “we had about 400 meals from YAMAS, minced beef and pasta and then a vegetarian pepper dish. The feedback was great and parents were shocked that even the vegetarian dishes were really tasty. Our teams loved that the meals were labelled with all the allergen information, whether they could be frozen or not and stated the use by dates. All of this information is really useful to the parents, and just makes the meals so easy to use. The parents also felt really valued knowing that the restaurants have put in the effort to make the meals for them, really highlighting the restaurants ethos.”
Becoming a food member at FareShare has allowed Mothers Voices to continue supporting their members through Covid-19. Amanda explains, “if we weren’t distributing food, we wouldn’t actually have any face to face contact with the parents. So our food bank has allowed us to regularly check-in with parents, and make sure that everything is okay, essentially continuing our support service to an extent. Also, a lot of our single parents have loved collecting their parcels as they’ve barely seen or spoken to other adults during the lockdown”.
The pandemic and lockdown has put a lot of strain on many families and individuals, Amanda wanted to highlight some of the remarkable acts of kindness the organisation have witnessed, “One of the mums used the bag of fruit we gave her to made a big batch of fruit crumble, which she shared out amongst some of her neighbours who she knew were also struggling. I loved hearing this story as it really exemplifies the act of paying it forward”.
Mothers Voices plan to continue their support services as the demand grows, with the inclusion of food from FareShare Midlands.