BIG-HEARTED shoppers in Stretford Mall have helped a pawnbrokers collect a small mountain of food for families in financial crisis.
Thanks to the efforts of H&T staff at Stretford Mall and the generosity of donors, two trolley loads of goodies have been handed over to the Salford Central Foodbank, which will now distribute it to those struggling to make ends meet.
The collection was the brainchild of Mike Doyle, who has been manager of H&T in the mall for the past 22 years.
He said: “H&T nationally has a Keep it Local initiative under which branches like ours are encouraged to support their local communities.
“I heard that one of the branches had made a very successful collection of food and handed it over to the foodbank in Liverpool.
“I thought it was an excellent thing to do and decided we should try something similar here in Stretford Mall, eventually donating any food we managed to collect to the Salford Central Foodbank, which is the nearest to us.
“We started off in a small way at the beginning of January. I went over to the local Tesco store, which is right opposite us in the mall, and asked them if I could borrow one of their small shopping baskets to make a food collection.
“They agreed right away and I took it back and put it at the front of our shop. We dressed it up with some information about the Salford Central Foodbank and I also downloaded the video from their website.
“It has some good illustrations about the kind of people they have been able to help. There’s some really heart-warming stuff on there.
“All this proved quite effective because within a short space of time the small basket had been filled by people who saw the video.
“I then went back to Tesco and borrowed one of their small trolleys. When that was filled up with donations I had to go back and get one of the large trolleys. By the end of the month that was also full.”
Colin McCrory, Stretford Mall manager, said: “What generosity we see once again from our loyal Stretford visitors and I can’t thank them enough for their support of H&T’s collection.
“The shopping centre is right at the heart of the Stretford so we well know what a warm, friendly and caring community it is here and this is proven time and time again by the huge support we get from them.”
Mike, 46, added: “The kind of thing people were donating was the basics like cereal, pasta and rice and some tins of food.
“I’d say that by the end of the collection we had about £200-£250 worth of stuff, which is roughly the equivalent to the cost of a family’s weekly shop.
“I’m over the moon about the reaction we had and I’d like to say a big thank you to all the generous people who donated.
“I know these are difficult times for people and a lot of our own customers are struggling to make ends meet. In fact, using our pawnbroking service has become part of their budget for the month.
“Watching people donate to our food collection was a sight for sore eyes and has restored my faith in humanity.
“I’m glad we chose to hand over the food we collected to the Salford Central Foodbank as they do such a marvellous job. They are part of a national network of foodbanks which has fed an incredible total of 128,000 people.
“These are just normal people who have fallen on hard times and perhaps can’t pay the mortgage.
“When you hear about them you think, there but for the grace of God go I.”
Dave Atkinson, one of the team managers at Salford Central Foodbank, said: “We are very grateful for the donation from H&T in Stretford Mall.
“We are totally dependent on people’s generosity.
“We send out quite healthy-sized parcels of food which are designed by nutritionists and this donation will help a lot of people.”
Once food is donated to the foodbank it is sorted by volunteers who check it is in date and pack it into boxes ready to be given to people in need.
Frontline care professionals such as doctors, health visitors, social workers, Citizens Advice Bureau staff, welfare officers, the police and probation service, identify people in crisis and issue them with a foodbank voucher.
Clients then bring along their voucher to a foodbank centre where it can be exchanged for three days’ supply of emergency food.
Volunteers meet clients over a cup of tea or free hot meal and are able to signpost people to agencies able to solve their longer-term problem.
For more information about Salford Central Foodbank, go to www.salfordcentral.foodbank.org.uk For more information about Stretford Mall go to www.stretfordmall.co.uk