As we approach a year since the first COVID-19 lockdown began, we want to share the story of one of our favourite memories from the past 12 months. Last year, ten-year-old Caleb Waterhouse wrote an inspiring letter to us, offering to volunteer and raise money by donating football boots for his hero, Marcus Rashford, to sign.
Marcus found it so impressive that he promised to return the signed boots to Caleb as a birthday present and personally donate the money Caleb raises.
Caleb has since raised over £1,000 for FareShare GM. In December he came to visit us for a tour of our new warehouse, where we presented him with a very special parcel.
Here’s what Caleb Waterhouse had to say…
On 21st December 2020, I visited FareShare in Greater Manchester with my Mum. On arrival, Miranda, FareShare’s Head of Development, met us.
Miranda had been speaking to my Mum to arrange my visit after she read my letter. It feels like a bit of luck falls on you if you’re able to visit FareShare. That’s because normally, they deny children access into New Smithfield Market, where it is based. Also, some very famous people have done the same visit that I have, like Marcus Rashford and his Mum, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (William and Kate) and Dennis Irwin.
Exploring FareShare GM has made me realise how many people need help so they don’t go hungry and how hardworking and kind the staff and volunteers are who make sure they help as many families as possible.
Firstly, Miranda introduced me to Mac, who is one of the drivers. He distributes food from the warehouse out to the charities that FareShare works with so the food can get to the people who need it. He even let me sit in the van!
Next, we went to explore the existing warehouse
Miranda introduced me to the Operations Manager, Derek. Basically, Derek and the team split the warehouse into foods that can be:
- stored in the warehouse and;
- those that need to go in the fridge.
The team organise lists so the staff and volunteers know which foods to distribute. In short, they need to make sure the right things go to the right charity and community partners. It is important to do these lists so that the food gets to the people who need it. Derek told me that some people don’t have ovens to cook. As a result, they need to receive food that can be made with just a kettle, like pot noodles.
The existing warehouse is split into two parts. The other side is a room which is a fridge. It looks really big compared to the fridge I have at home, too. But it is full to the brim because so many people rely on FareShare to provide food for them.
The staff need to work really quickly to get food out so there is space for the next delivery. The racks in the warehouse are stacked up to the roof because there isn’t a lot of space in comparison to the amount of food that they handle.
Exploring FareShare GM has made me realise how many people need help so they don’t go hungry and how hardworking and kind the staff and volunteers are who make sure they help as many families as possible
Derek told me that the food they deliver to FareShare is all donations. They receive food from places like Tesco, Asda and even the Ministry of Defence! The MOD parcels were pre-pack meals that soldiers would take out on exercise with them so they sound quite interesting. It’s amazing and surprising to think about the food they deliver: I even had a look at some Domino’s pizza toppings!
Next Miranda took us over to see the new warehouse, Melanie Maynard House. The new warehouse is a lot bigger than the existing one and it has two fridges; one for foods coming in and the other for foods going out. This will help the staff because they will have more space to work in. It also has a freezer room so frozen foods can be stored. This is a great benefit because FareShare have to work really fast to make sure the food gets to the families that need it before it goes out of date.
Derek said that they try to tackle food waste but also make sure that all their operations are as sustainable as possible as they are run by EMERGE 3Rs and their charity objective is to minimise all waste.
Food demand is rising
The demand for food has increased significantly since the pandemic began. Accordingly, FareShare expects that it will increase even more in 2021 because lots of people have lost their jobs. Before the pandemic, they were supporting 600,000 families in the Manchester area and now even more people need their help. When the new warehouse is complete, FareShare GM will have the capacity to distribute 7 million meals out!
I think that all the people who help out at FareShare are heroes. Because they are helping to save lives by stopping starvation.
Outside the warehouse, I met some of the staff. A lot of these people volunteer, like Karina who is a Manchester United fan just like me. The volunteers go on a rota to help distribute food as often as they can. I think that all the people who help out at FareShare are heroes. Because they are helping to save lives by stopping starvation.
Meeting Marcus Rashford
My favourite player, Marcus Rashford, has been helping to raise awareness for FareShare and to tackle food poverty. That’s how I heard about the fantastic work that they do. And it makes me want to help.
My original idea was to raise money by donating some football boots. But Marcus offered to return them to me signed by him. This was a really nice surprise when I got to FareShare, and he actually sent me a signed pair of his own boots.
I am really grateful that Marcus sent me a pair of his own boots and that FareShare GM let me do the visit that the famous people have done. To say thank you I am trying to help raise money and awareness just like my hero Marcus Rashford.
Even though Marcus offered to donate the money I would have raised from raffling my boots, I wanted to raise as much money as I could, so I asked people if they would sponsor my FareShare visit.
My efforts to raise money
So far I have managed to raise £1,100 towards their new warehouse (I’m not sure how much more Marcus donated for me). They need another £200,000 to complete the warehouse. To help them get towards this total I have a few ideas to try raise some more money if I can and I hope that telling people about my visit will inspire other people to raise money to get the warehouse up and running as soon as possible.
Finally, I want to thank all the people at FareShare for letting me visit, especially Miranda who organised it for me. I hope I can go back to see the new warehouse when it’s complete.
Here’s a link to my fundraising page so people can see my progress.