A FOOD bank hero has been honoured with the British Empire Medal (BEM) in this year's Queen's Birthday's Honours for her response to the coronavirus crisis.

Michelle McHale is a trustee and volunteer for Bridging the Gap, which covers communities in Old Trafford, as well as in Hulme, Moss Side and Whalley Range.

For around six years until 2020, the food bank offered a face-to-face service to these communities, but the coronavirus crisis was a threat to its work as the UK went in and out of three lockdowns.

Michelle was at the forefront of a move towards deliveries which allowed Bridging the Gap's work to continue and indeed expand.

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She partnered with local authorities, plus organisations such as churches, homeless shelters and schools, to both provide support and secure it for the food bank.

Between March and July 2020, Bridging the Gap delivered almost 1,350 parcels to more than 3,000 people, up 345 per cent on the same period one year earlier.

Michelle told The Messenger: "We were getting more and more referrals coming in, so we had to change the way we were working.

"I'm not sure how we did it, but we did."

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Now the three lockdowns are behind the UK, the food bank is faced with another challenge in the form of the cost of living crisis.

Bridging the Gap is still instrumental in supporting those who are struggling with food, but also with essentials such as school resources, supplies and uniform.

Michelle said: "The last two years have been stressful for people.

"We're coming through a pandemic and adding the cost of living crisis on top of it. It's locking more and more families into poverty."

Michelle is well aware there is more to be done at a local, regional and national level to tackle poverty, and she will continue on her own mission to eradicate it.

But for now she is overwhelmed to have received the BEM.

She said: "I'm thankful. It doesn't happen to people like me.

"I don't look for recognition, but it's nice to be recognised."