On 23rd March 2021 we marked the grim moment of one year of being in lockdown due to the Covid-19 crisis. It has been an awful time and we know there have been too many premature deaths in our community and many more that have been laid low by this terrible disease. Our thoughts and wishes go to those that have lost a loved one and to the people still recovering. We can only hope that things will get better and we will do our best to make that happen.

The Sale Moor Community Partnership charity realised at an early stage that we were in a position to alleviate some of the issues people were going to face even though we could no longer have people in the premises to get advice, learn new skills, play or socialise with each other.

It is amazing what can be achieved when people come together.

At the start of this we teamed up with Sale Communities Junior Football Club as the team there were trusted, known to people and great at getting involved with good things! Initially helping with deliveries and logistics support they introduced SMCP to the Thyme & Season caterers to provide free fresh microwaveable meals. The club used some of their funds to pay for the meals (provided at cost!) and SMCP then received funding from Trafford Council, Trafford Housing Trust and Forever Manchester to continue this to April 2021. Thyme & Season helped us with the Christmas meals too. We are stunned by the work John and Cheryl have done across Trafford during the pandemic.

For four months the meal scheme was added to by local resident Kelly Eastwood. Kelly had been furloughed from Broderick’s Love Coffee and decided to set up a fresh meal scheme providing SMCP with 30-40 meals a week. The link with Broderick’s Love Coffee continued and Kelly arranged for them to send all the sweets and drinks from the unused vending machines to us. It was a huge bonanza and we gave out bags of sweets and drinks, too many to count!

Our partnerships with local groups, schools, council, housing and our social media presence and work with food projects held us in good stead. It meant we could mobilise quickly to support the most disadvantaged and scared people by offering good quality food and tailored support for those that needed a bit more than that. We became part of the Trafford Response Team. We got food and medicines, shopped for people, delivered meals, provided Christmas meals and sourced presents, chatted to people on their doorsteps and at the shop front and did our best to continue the Food Bank and Bread & Butter Thing.

The first big impact for SMCP was the need to close the two centres and work from the front door. It was also necessary to relocate the packing of Bread & Butter Thing food. This went to the depot that they use and volunteers from Sale Moor came along to assist with the food pack in Trafford Park. TBBT eventually had to move to larger premises at Bowlers to accommodate social distancing and many of our volunteers continued to support that until it returned to Sale Moor late in the summer. TBBT also started donating all of the remaining food after each event to SMCP to distribute freely and within the Food Bank system. We received lots of the shopping bags but also tons of vegetables and lots of other food. So much that we could offer it at the front of the shops and to anyone that asked regardless of their circumstances.

At an early stage we also took over the running of the local Food Bank and moved the stock over to the SMCP office from St. Francis where we managed the stock, donations and coordinated deliveries and collections to those in need of help. Initially this was as much for those that were isolating or ill as well as the people in a financial crisis until the NHS food boxes scheme kicked in. We then went to the more usual model of Food Bank scheme delivery before it returned to St Francis in February 2021. The residents of Wynyard Close have been particularly involved and have done a weekly collection all the way through that has been invaluable. The football club and our local councillors played a huge part in the deliveries and must be acknowledged for their efforts here as everyone was still getting to grips with what the Covid threat entailed.

Through the partnership work with the Sale Hub Response Team we have been able to add lots of “extras” as we went along with access to other support offers such as care packs and PPE not to mention the support for the wider community they have given when we have not been able to respond to requests. They have gone above and beyond.

Trafford Housing Trust have provided funds for the Lunch Club (Active Appetites programme) and this has allowed SMCP to supply over 30 packed lunches most days of the school holidays. Before Covid we would do this as part of a wider activity programme but had to revert to a collection scheme. They have provided the funding for the rest of 2021 too so hopefully we will be able to link this to activities again at some point. Lindsay and Clare have been pivotal to making this happen and we can’t thank them enough.

A very special mention also goes to the team at Nisa. Not only have they gone out of their way to get all the ingredients for our lunch packs for us, they have donated £100’s worth of food over the year. We also know of the extra mile they have gone for people during the crisis. They are a credit to our community.

When guidelines have made it possible the team at Brink Productions have delivered activities for teenagers in the evenings. We have only been restricted to a few chats here and there and it is heart breaking to see the damage the pandemic has caused on our youth. We all hope to get back to supporting our young people and children face to face as soon as possible. Brink also introduced us to Bearly Loved and this created a wonderful scheme where we could offer Christmas presents to people struggling to provide during the festivities.

Our favourite thing has been able to still chat (masked and distanced of course) with our community at the font door. With the building work taking such a long time people have been more or less forced to walk past us to get to Nisa! It’s been that little bit of light in a very long and dark tunnel.

In the year of Covid we have provided a stunning list of support:

4,850 Microwaveable freshly made meals

1,838 Childrens Lunch Packs

337 Food Bank packages

3,600 Bread & Butter shops packed (over 10,000 bags of shopping!)

235 Free Bread & Butter Thing shopping packages

58 SMCP Food packages

57 Care packages for Children/Pets/Toiletries

21 Shopping/Medicine trips

700 Loaves Of Bread

500 Easter Eggs

100 Airplane meals

1,000 Cereal Packs

1,000’s of Chocolate bars & Soft Drinks

47 Christmas Presents

120 Christmas Meals

30 Childrens Pizza Kits

130 Creative Care Kits

50 THT Covid PPE & Safety Bags

60 Comfort Bags

and lots and lots of books!

We would like to extend thanks and gratitude to all the SMCP Volunteers, Sale Communities JFC (Lindsey, Jamie, Nigel, Kieran, Joel, Debi), Trafford Council and especially our local Councillors, Liz Patel, Mike Freeman & Joanne Bennett, the Sale Hub Response Team (based at Sale West), The Norris Road Nisa team, The Bread & Butter Thing (and particularly Rachael), Trafford Housing Trust and the Social Investment Fund, Forever Manchester, Lime Tree Primary School, Thyme & Season, Wates Family Enterprise Trust, Kellogs, Kelly Eastwood, Broderick’s Love Coffee, Brink Productions, Bearly Loved, Mano a Bocca (Sale), Sale, Timperley & Altrincham Guides, Brownies & Scouts, Sewaday, 0161 Community, Blanchflowers in Altrincham, Wynyard Close Residents Group, VJ’s Accessories, The Buck, The Vine, Sheila, Joel, Samantha, Christine, Geoff, Anne-Marie from SUP Yoga Sale

We have also been very privileged to receive individual donations of varying kinds from Dr Rashad Nawaz, Graham & Pat, Derek, Pat, Debi, Becky, Pia, Darren, Michelle & Harold and Pat & Nigel (Stretford).

After 20 years at the heart of the community we are closing the shops on the 16th April 2021 as part of the demolition of the area ready for new housing. While the pandemic has been going on we had to pause our efforts to relocate as funders refocused and so did we! We have secured a £100,000 grant from the THT Social Investment Fund to locate a modular building at a site in the community. We have now identified the site and hope to announce details soon. We have also made huge progress on an application to the National Lottery Fund that would secure the future of SMCP and help us achieve another 20 years of support and partnership with our community and partners.