Just two months since it opened its doors and the Anson Community Shop in Rusholme, which received funding from our One Manchester Community Fund, already has a waiting list and is getting ready to extend its opening hours.
The new community food-sharing membership scheme run by dedicated local volunteers already has 55 members picking up a basket full of bargains every week. With members paying just £2.50 for food and other household items worth at least £12 supplied by Fare-Share, Tesco, M & S, and local donations which would otherwise go to waste, it’s little wonder it’s so popular.
Anson Community Shop volunteer Sammy Minshull said: “More and more people are struggling to pay their bills and get food on the table but there can be a stigma attached to foodbanks. With the shop, everybody pays the same membership fee and they can get all kinds of bakery items, toiletries and fresh fruit and veg. They’re queuing out of the doors because everybody loves it. And if someone can’t make it to the shop, we can drop food off for them.”
Healthy Me Healthy Communities, the social enterprise behind the project, is now looking to open on an additional day to meet demand. Plans are also underway for a luncheon club which would offer low-cost, nutritious hot meals.
And it doesn’t end at buying food. For those of us who struggle to boil an egg without burning it, the cooking events taking place at Anson Community House might be just the ticket. Refugees and migrants involved with the Rainbow Haven project will be sharing their cooking skills on 12 July, with overseas students from the University of Manchester serving up their favourite recipes on 19 July.
Greater Manchester Mayor and Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd visited the shop last week to find out what’s been going on and was impressed with what he saw. He said: “The Anson Community Shop is an inspiring example of what can be achieved when local people give up their own time and come together to make a difference in their communities. By harnessing this community spirit we can all work together to build resilient neighbourhoods and tackle issues such as loneliness, poverty and mental ill health within our communities.”
The project is going from strength-to-strength helping to provide access to quality, low-cost foods and other goods, improve cooking and budgeting skills and bring the community together.
Healthy Me Healthy Communities chief executive, Rich Browning, said: "The community shop has been a tremendous success helping people experiencing food poverty and loneliness. It is more than a place to shop with members staying for a chat, catching up on what is happening in their community and attending other activities. And already the shop is making money that is being put back into the area and has plans in place to open more outlets so more people can benefit.”