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Spirit of Manchester Story Week 2019 - Day 4

FareShare GM - A day in the life of FareShare and its volunteers

FareShare GM works with the food industry to redistribute surplus food to frontline charities and community groups. They also educate nationally, regionally and locally on the impact of waste food upon people's lives and the planet.

Today, FareShare GM has 12 volunteers working to receive, quality control, and redistribute surplus food to over 100 charities across the city. When asked about the wider benefits of FareShare's work, Miranda simply said "We are fighting poverty as a whole, and food poverty IS part of poverty and also social isolation". She goes on to explain that they also support other charity members to deliver their services. “By receiving food from FareShare, organisations we work with are better able to provide nutritious meals for vulnerable people, alongside life-changing support services.  The money our charity members save on food bills can then be re-invested into essential support programmes to help their beneficiaries in the long term".

Miranda explains that "food waste has a significant negative impact on the environment. It generates eight percent of global greenhouse emissions. Therefore, by redistributing surplus food, FareShare and its volunteers are directly fighting this impact. We also hope that by educating people about the surprising negative impact of food waste, people will make a conscious decision to cut down on their own waste and help to reduce their carbon footprint."

A primary school from South Manchester recently reported that through working with FareShare, they had saved £3,000 throughout the year. FareShare were also able to provide fruit for Key Stage 2 pupils, something that the school was not previously able to offer. The hours given by the FareShare volunteers equates to 10 full time staff. Without them, the work FareShare do would not be possible, "and we can never thank them enough!"


Bridge 5 Mill - "A community of people who are trying to work for the benefit of the environment and sustainability"

Bridge 5 Mill is a converted Mill based in Ancoats, and serves as the base for 18 different tenant organisations as well. It is also open for use as a venue. From this brief description, you might be led to think that there is nothing out of the ordinary about Bridge 5 Mill, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Bridge 5 Mill was refurbished sustainably, using sustainable building materials and practices wherever possible. “Examples of this”, Michelle says, “include the flooring in the conference room, which was once a sports gym floor”. Bridge 5 Mill is also powered sustainably: they use Good Energy as their electricity supplier and have solar panels as well. The community of tenants make sure to recycle, reuse and repurpose as much as possible, and also share supplies to reduce waste. Tenants are accommodated based on sharing the Bridge 5 Mill ethos and ideals, and need to be committed to following their sustainability policies and principles.

Anyone can use Bridge as a venue, whether for a conference, workshop, away day or other such session. When catering they ensure the menu is not only vegetarian, but also provided by a local social enterprise, such as Back on Track or Good Mood Food, as Bridge 5 Mill feel it is important to support other Manchester based organisations. Today saw David Pierpoint, CEO from the Retrofit Academy, deliver a training programme on developing skills and knowledge to ensure people are delivering low energy products that work, creating sustainable outcomes and delivering higher carbon savings.

When asked about the wider benefits of Bridge 5 Mill’s work, Michelle suggested one of the biggest things was that “we connect people”. This goes not only for the tenants, who occasionally hold vegetarian BBQs and “speed dating” networking events to share ideas and information, but also for the local community, who are encouraged to engage through Bridge 5 Mill’s active Twitter account. Through that, people can find out about all the environmental work happening in Ancoats, as well as any other goings on. Michelle sees Bridge 5 Mill as a hub for “a community of people who are trying to do things to change society and trying to work for the benefit of the environment and sustainability”.


Touch Wood - 'To help tackle climate change, just Touch Wood!'

Emerge 3Rs started in 1996, carrying out kerbside collections of paper for recycling. Since then it has gone from strength to strength, becoming both a social business and a registered charity, moving to a base in Smithfield Market and running a range of activities all focused on reducing consumption, reusing resources and recycling responsibly.

Touch Wood is part of the Emerge group. It was established five years ago, when the National Community Wood Recycling Project approached Emerge to see if they could work together to create a scheme for Manchester. Emerge started collecting wood on an ad hoc basis from skips and building sites, developing this in to a paid-for collection service and working with councils, construction companies and other partners.

Touch Wood was set up to make sure the collected wood could be reused. On a typical day, staff and volunteers will receive wood from collections, clean it, de-nail it and remove any damaged or rotten wood before selling it via the Touch Wood shop, which is open to the public. They also create new items such as planters, garden benches, coffee tables and bird boxes, and take commissions for bespoke items. Most of the wood is soft wood, particularly pine. They recently acquired the original Siberian spruce track from the Velodrome when it was refurbished, and have been able to make many new items from this, including bookshelves and tables for a community group in Clayton.

Lucy Danger, Emerge’s Managing Director, said, "All our projects help tackle climate change by stopping reusable items from ending up where they shouldn’t. The wood we use would otherwise end up tipped, dumped or burnt, all of which releases carbon unnecessarily. Touch Wood also offers social value over and above a typical DIY supplier because we work with volunteers, carry out education projects with local schools and businesses, and work with community projects".

Touch Wood has just received an investment via One Manchester to research how other wood recycling organisations around the country work, and develop a business and marketing plan to introduce new services for Manchester.

As Lucy says, "Watch this space! And if you need wood and want to do good, then come and see us at the Touch Wood shop!"

Touch Wood
New Smithfield Market
M11 2WJ
Monday to Friday, 8.30 a.m. – 4.30 p.m.  Occasional Saturdays.  Contact for details.


Real Food Wythenshawe - "Part of a growing awareness of the benefits for both members and the environment of engaging with nature"

We cycled to Wythenshawe Park this afternoon to visit the Pineapple Cooperative. The park is host to a growing number of eco-friendly projects, the Pineapple Cooperative being one of many. It’s an offshoot (no pun intended) of ‘Real Food Wythenshawe’ and is run entirely for the benefit of the local community. Members are given their own allotment space to grow fruit, veg and flowers inside the beautiful old walls of this historic garden that dates back centuries to the origins of Wythenshawe Hall.

We spoke to Ingrid (pictured below in the greenhouse where members can plant seeds to grow on in the allotments). She is a firm believer in the benefits of growing your own food, and the positive impact that engaging with nature can have on the mental health of those involved in the project. Ingrid showed me an article from the Independent newspaper which describes how a Manchester GP has begun ‘prescribing’ the care of a herbal plant for patients suffering from anxiety and depression. They care for this plant as it is growing and it is then transferred to a local communal garden.

The Pineapple Cooperative is part of a growing awareness of the benefits for both members and the environment of engaging with nature. And long may it continue!