With many people across the UK having experienced immense financial difficulty through the pandemic, local community charities and initiatives have been invaluable in their dedication to assisting families in not only sourcing healthy food but also providing wellbeing and legal advice. As such, the Medicash Foundation is proud to be supporting The Big Help Project to launch their Weekly Food Club across some of Merseyside’s most deprived areas through a recent donation.

It’s estimated that as of January 2021, between 8% and 9% of the UK population is living in food poverty – that’s around 5 million people – with The Trussell Trust reporting a 123% increase in food bank use over the past five years. Food banks like those in Knowsley, Merseyside, rely on both donations and financial support to continue their vital work in supporting those living in food poverty or insecurity, including over 2 million children.

The Big Help Project was founded in 2011 as Knowsley Foodbank, with the aim to alleviate people out of poverty through food and welfare support. As well as operating ten food distribution centres across Knowsley Borough in Merseyside, the Project also provides a variety of support schemes including ‘BabyBasics’, ‘Big Help Homes’, ‘Painting Green’, and ‘Big Help Employability Services’. The Project also offer ‘Big Help Money Advice’, providing free of charge debt advice, budgeting support, and help in completing eligibility assessments and welfare applications.

The Big Help Food Club was launched in 2018 to help reduce both food waste and food insecurity across Merseyside. Now with additional financial support from Medicash, members can access a weekly basket of healthy, affordable food, including fresh fruit and vegetables and other essential chilled, frozen, and tinned groceries. Club members are also encouraged to engage in the club’s ‘brew and a biscuit’ chats to reduce the social isolation that can be so detrimental to physical and mental health. Staff and volunteers are also able to provide information, advice, guidance, and signposting to club members on a range of useful topics such as welfare rights, debt and employment queries, and even digital inclusion services. The Medicash Foundation’s donation will help the Project to fund vital facilities for the Food Club such as fridges, freezers, shelving, and unit rental.

“Much more than a vital food service, we’re proud to be able to support the Big Help Food Club’s incredible work through our recent donation,” says Sue Weir, Medicash chief executive and Foundation trustee. “By providing both a safe place to discuss their problems and a secure source of healthy food, the Project is going to have a huge impact on the overall health, wellbeing, and social inclusion of many people across Merseyside.”

Peter Mitchell, CEO of the Big Help Project, said: “From day one, the Big Help Project has worked towards the day when we can close Foodbanks because food security has become within the means of everyone. Food Clubs are a key part of this strategy, providing the whole community with access to quality fresh, chilled, frozen and ambient food at a minimal cost. Unlike Food Banks, Food Clubs give customers a choice and function as a retail option for everyone rather than emergency aid for just a few, and the membership fees support the sustainability of the club. We are hugely grateful to Medicash for taking a leap of faith and helping to fund one of the first Food Clubs, which is still growing strong and serving people in the community.”

Learn more about the Big Help Project’s ongoing campaigns on their website.