How a plucky pub in Hulme that was forced to close due to coronavirus is providing meals and support for its neighbours - but warns the situation could get worse.
Taphouse TV Dinners is an innovative food and support project based out of one of the last remaining pubs in Hulme. We are supporting some of the most under-served communities in the inner city of Manchester, by collecting unharvested foods and food donations to cook a hearty pay-as-you-feel-meal for the community. Many of the service users are struggling families and individuals isolating due to a health condition who have slipped through the net. We receive no support or funding from Manchester City Council so are completely reliant on support from our local community.
This project is being delivered in partnership with The Old Abbey Taphouse, Geeks for Social Change, ACORN, and Gaskell Garden Project - combining community engagement, food wastage, circle economies and tech innovation to support people in the immediate vicinity.
We provide extra meals for those who have identified themselves as high need and provide hot meals for those who do not have a microwave or oven to reheat food. We cook hearty meals and cater for all dietary needs. Past meals have included lasagna, sausage and mash, quinoa salad and soup. So far we have distributed over 100 meals and 1,000 easter eggs for our neighbours, frontline workers and their families.
We are expanding our food packages to also contain art packs to help those who are self isolating stay active and creative throughout the lockdown. With the increase of individuals struggling with their mental health during isolation, we hope that these packs will help alleviate stress and provide an engaging, entertaining activity. In our newsletter we include information about the food as well as a poem for individuals to read.
We are also offering volunteer support to isolated or vulnerable people by collecting groceries or prescriptions, providing check-in welfare calls, help with gas and electric payment, and other services on request. Our service is focussed on those from M15 postcodes as well as bordering areas who have a high need for the service. Volunteers deliver items every Tuesday to the homes of the participants, ensuring that delivery is contact free.
Kerry Ellis, one of our regular customers said:
“I am low-income self- employed dog walker and pet sitter and in better times, myself and my neighbours would meet/eat/quiz/ experience music and talks at The Old Abbey Taphouse…I got right on to “proud” but what you might call “vulnerable” neighbours, I said, look, this isn’t charity as such - it is old- school HULME help your neighbours and kin! The food you can expect would cost you £££ in any gastro-pub and is equally amazing! When I hear of a person who hasn’t signed up, I order 1 extra and leave outside their front door with a leaflet!”
Another one of participants, who has asked to remain anonymous said:
“I struggle to cook meals because of my health conditions. During lockdown I felt isolated and having a meal cooked for me made me feel included and part of the community. This service also helped me stay connected with others in the community, I was able to cope with loneliness because of it as the young people who delivered the meals would stay awhile and chat with me while observing the social distancing rules. I felt safe knowing that I can turn to them if there was a problem.”
Last week, one lady said she missed having any green space - so this week we’re sending her some plants! With the lack of farm workers meaning food is rotting in fields, Gaskell Garden Project has stepped up to harvest unpicked food from farms, taking the surplus stock and redistributing it to groups like us. Normally Gaskell would run the Spiral Cafe project on Sundays at the pub, serving a pay as you feel 3 course meal alongside music so it’s really good we’ve found a new way to all keep working together. Alongside this we set up a radio station where locals have turned their events into talk shows and local bands and DJs have sent in music and played live DJ sets. Rachele Evaroa, one of the Co-Directors of The Old Abbey Taphouse said:
“We are looking forward to when we can all come together and meet for a community feast! For us, it’s given us an opportunity to meet new neighbours who otherwise might not have known about the community pub and stay connected with the people who do.”
We believe there will be lots more people in need soon. We are hearing stories about possible evictions, loss of earnings and people unable to claim anything as they dont fit the government’s criteria or they struggle with the bureaucracy to get it. Xav Cohen, a representative from our community partner Acorn Manchester, who are working tirelessly to fight for working class rights, said:
“Right now, we’re within a 90-day no-eviction period. But that comes to an end in late June, and we’re expecting to see a huge surge in eviction attempts from landlords who care more about maximising their profits than public health and keeping families off the streets.”
People can only be referred to food banks through a GP or Social Worker - who are currently not out working in the community. There is a huge rise of people who have never had to use these services, and therefore unsure how to access them.
We are asking members of the public to support the Taphouse TV Dinners project by donating cash and items to help us cook. As a project we rely on volunteers and donations to continue our work. We are fortunate to have received support from local businesses, including Unicorn Groceries in Chorlton, who are supporting us with food vouchers for the project.
By securing funding for the project this will enable us to continue to support these individuals during and after lockdown restrictions are lifted. The economic effects of the coronavirus will be felt for a prolonged period of time, therefore we want to continue this project to support individuals through this hardship.
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