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Covid-19 Champions: Meet the Living Wage Employers keeping Britain Fed

Our annual Champion Awards ceremony on June 16th will celebrate and recognise the outstanding contributions individuals and organisations have made to the Living Wage movement. This year, to recognise the contribution of Living Wage employers in the fight against Covid-19, we have introduced a new “Covid-19 Stronger Together” award category. We have been blown away by the inspirational stories of Living Wage Employers who have gone above and beyond to protect and support their communities through the pandemic. We couldn’t wait until June to share these with you, so in the lead up to the ceremony, we’ll be celebrating their efforts every week.

Throughout the pandemic, Living Wage Employers have been striving to keep Britain fed. Together, they have delivered nearly 9 million meals and 80,000 boxes of food since the first lockdown was announced.

Members of our movement pay a real Living Wage – the only independently calculated wage rate that covers the cost of living – because they believe that no one should be forced to make a choice between heating and eating. It is a choice that too many low-paid workers are forced to make every day: our Life on Low Pay report found that 27% of people working full time but being paid below the real Living Wage regularly skip meals. That’s over a million people, and almost half of those have children.

Food insecurity and food poverty have made headlines this past year. With many more families pushed into hardship as a result of the pandemic, reliance on food banks has soared. They have become a crucial lifeline to those facing empty bellies at the end of the day – one that our Living Wage Employers have rallied together to support.

Meet the members of our movement who have been keeping Britain fed:

City Harvest, London
The scale of the support that City Harvest provided to Londoners over the pandemic is staggering. Teaming up with local councils and the Mayor’s Office, they delivered almost 8 million meals to charities in every London borough and collected nearly 4,000 tons of food that would have otherwise gone to waste. From individuals isolated in their homes, to frontline NHS workers, to refugees and children struggling without free school meals, the charity stepped up to feed more then 30,000 Londoners each day.

Histologix, Nottingham
Held a team fundraiser and donated over 400 items including food, nappies, baby toiletries and formula to their local Trussell Trust foodbank in Nottingham.

Datblygiadau Egni Gwledig, Northwest Wales
Raised £6,000 to support the delivery of 555 food parcels around Caernarfon – one of the most deprived wards in Wales – during the first lockdown.

Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home, Edinburgh
It’s not just humans that suffer as a result of food insecurity. Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home created a dedicated pet foodbank to make sure that much-loved animals are able to stay with loved ones who can no longer cope with the financial burden of their care. They partnered with 36 foodbanks and charities across the South East Scotland, supporting over 1600 pets in the process. Going forward, they plan to further expand the Paws pantry and reach many more owners in need throughout 2021.

Renaisi, London
Nominated one of their colleagues – Faisal Ahmad – who organised the regular delivery of food to over 200 refugee families during the lockdown.

National Express Accessible Transport, Birmingham
Have helped to deliver thousands of food parcels to people who were shielding and delivered over 45,000 food parcels to some of Birmingham’s most vulnerable families

West Ham United, London
The Living Wage Movement was born in East London; West Ham United have been doing us proud with their work to combat food insecurity in the area.  Since the pandemic began, the club has: dedicated over 350 hours to supporting the Holiday Hunger programme and foodbank outreach; delivered more than 1,125 bags of food across East London; supported Fareshare’s campaign to end child food poverty through a £25,000 donation from by Joint-Chairman David Sullivan; supported Newham Foodbank with donations of £23,000 from David Sullivan and £5,000 from mid-fielder Declan Rice.

Bluebird Bakery, Leeds
Regular donors to food banks in their local area, they give discounts to students, sent boxes of cakes to NHS staff, and gave away free bread hampers to those unable to pay in the run up to Christmas.

Back on Track, Manchester
Nominated CEO Siobhan Pollitt, who pivoted Back on Track’s catering social enterprise to support the provision of over 2,500 meals to people rough sleeping during the first lockdown.

Friends of Stretford Public Hall, Trafford
Owned by the local community, Stretford Public Hall closed to the public in March 2020 and began operating as Stretford Community Response Hub, providing frontline support to the local residents. Over the six month period between March and August 2020, its team of staff and volunteers dealt with over 850 calls from local residents, delivered over 450 food parcels and assisted shops, and conducted nearly 500 check-in phone calls to isolated residents. They also delivered over 13,000 newsletters and leaflets to local residents, to make sure everyone in the local community knew about the support available.

Better Food, Bristol
Nominated their employee Fiona, who single-handedly organised the urgent supply of fresh fruit, vegetables, bread and milk to over 250 students isolating in Halls of Residence at Bristol University.

Carbon Creative, Salford
Lived their values of community and social value, building a huge Food Giftbox where people could drop food donations 24/7. Have so far assisted in the donation of 2,000 meals.

Access Community Trust, East Anglia
Access Community Trust has provided care for those at risk of homelessness and social isolation across East Anglia for over 45 years; they’ve seen a dramatic increase in demand for their services due to the pandemic. To support those in need, the Trust repurposed their Community Cafe Kitchens to cook and have delivered over 20,000 meals across Suffolk to the most vulnerable in the community. They also established a service delivering ingredients to Free School Meals households; in 2020 it delivered 97 tonnes of ingredients to over 12,000 children and their families.

Alexander Community Development LTD, Dundee
Became Dundee’s central food insecurity distribution centre during the pandemic, supporting 27 foodbanks each week and ensuring over 4,500 people had access to the food they supplied.

Register to join our online ceremony on 16 June, 6-7.30pm to find out the winners of this category, and many others. 

23rd April 2021
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