Salford charity Loaves and Fishes has won an award for its tireless work with homeless and vulnerable people.
The Spirit of Salford Community Awards 2021, which took place virtually earlier in the month, celebrate some of the inspirational people and groups that go out of their way to make Salford a better place.
Salford Loaves and Fishes received the Community Group of the Year award, having been nominated by judges and voted to victory by the public.
Chief executive officer Jonathan Billings said: “It’s great to have won an award and I’m immensely proud. The credit goes to the staff here who’ve been working tirelessly and selflessly over the last 12 months to deliver services to people in need.”
The charity has a dedicated group of staff working particularly with homeless, vulnerable and isolated people in Salford although anyone can ask for its help.
From its newly renovated building on Paddington Close, the charity helped 569 visitors last month.
Due to lockdown, it has had to put some services on hold.
Mr Billings said: “It’s been quite difficult for us during the lockdown because we’re not allowed to open our building, so we’ve been doing a lot of remote working and giving out food parcels, working closely with Salford Foodbank we distributed 400 parcels last month.
“I think the worst of the issues we’ll experience are to come, evictions are illegal now but that’s going to change after March, so we expect lots of people to become homeless.
“We’re just trying to get ourselves prepared and get the project ready for welcoming people back into the building.”
Loaves & Fishes drop-in centre normally provides a warm and safe environment with access to hot food and drinks, clothing and toiletries, dental surgery, GP surgery and a nurse but has had to operate from the garden during lockdown.
Some guests attend the drop-ins to seek advice and support with debt or addiction problems, or simply to talk with others.
The charity relies on donations from companies as well as valuable support from individuals.
“It’s our absolute bread and butter and what keeps the project alive, so without the support of the community of Salford we wouldn’t be able to open,” he said.
“We are always looking for organisations to get involved with us to do volunteering activities and community days.”
The charity’s Christian foundation ensures an accepting, non-judgemental approach to feeding Salford’s vulnerable people.
Mr Billings said: “Having a Christian ethos definitely helps when you’re doing a job like this because of having those principles of being welcoming and trying to help people as much as you possibly can.”
As the Covid restrictions ease, Loaves and Fishes plans to do even more.
“We’ve just secured a new building next to our existing one and in that we are going to open a skills centre where we can run different courses and activities to increase people’s employability,” said Mr Billings.
“In the next couple of weeks, we are teaming up with the NHS and it’s going to be used as a Covid-19 vaccination centre.”
With the building being closed, Loaves and Fishes has been working from the garden with support services available Monday, Wednesday and Thursday between 9.30am and 12.30pm.