Week 7 - Food, Power and Kindness

19 May 2020

The last of our opinion pieces over the UK lockdown period.

This week the film LEFT COAST, Directed by Carol Salter is being released by Uncertain Kingdom, part of a collection of twenty short films, from twenty visionary filmmakers, offering a unique portrait of our nation today.

LEFT COAST features the coastal towns of North West England, as dedicated volunteers hand out kindness and food to help those left behind.

The seeds for the film began with a commission which was part of LeftCoast’s Real Estate: Micro Residency project.

A short residency within the communities we work with to experiment and explore ideas which fitted with themes around our wider programme.

Carol went on to gain a commission with Uncertain Kingdom to see the project through to completion.

The Uncertain Kingdom, the ground-breaking anthology of twenty short films from twenty directors will be released in the UK & Ireland on demand on 1ST June. Watch them here

The Uncertain Kingdom will be available on BFI Player programmed in two feature-length volumes, which will also be available on iTunes, GooglePlay, Amazon & Curzon Home Cinema. In addition, The British Council will release the films internationally allowing their partners to view the films simultaneous to the UK release.  

Three of the titles in the anthology will be available for free on the BFI’s social channels from 18th May and Carol’s have been selected as one of the 3 films for early release. LEFT BEHIND will be shown on Wednesday 20 May from 9pm and will be available to watch for 24 hours. 

We wanted to revisit the foodbanks and volunteers along the Fylde Coast to see how the Covid-19 Crisis was impacting our communities.

Last week I spoke to Becky Doran-Brown, one of our LeftCoast Makers. She’s a Community Development Worker at Revoelution Blackpool, based in Revoe and one of the National Lottery Big Local areas.

Since lockdown, Becky has been working with His Provision, a local charity that funds numerous projects within the local community. To provide much needed support to their emergency Food Bank provisions. At the start of lockdown, the charity was approached by Blackpool Council to support their Corona Kindness initiative, a voluntary service set up to provide help to people during the Covid-19 crisis. Services include help with food shopping, medical supplies/collecting prescriptions, social isolation and loneliness.

As a community service, Revoelution were keen to provide support.

“Not everybody knows about the support available from the Council, so we’ve been a vital link on the ground, visible and accessible to people who may not have internet access.”

Before the lockdown His Provision we’re feeding 40 families per week in the free family meal project and their unique food pantry points system for volunteering opportunities ensures that no one needs to go hungry. It’s these volunteers who were called into action to support the wider need at the start of the lockdown. Their roles are varied, including collecting food, disinfecting goods, making up food parcels and delivery.

“At the start of the crisis, we were helping over 100 families without advertisement, we aimed to support anyone who asked for help. If you need to come to someone and ask for food for your family – then you definitely need it. Over the weeks I’ve learnt that food is power, people in our position should never hold back access to it”

It has been reported that there are 50% more people needing support than before the pandemic, many who have never needed to access food banks before. 

With Blackpool’s economy dependent on a now non-existent tourist trade, it means many people are out of work. For working families who have been furloughed, a 40% decrease in income can be catastrophic.

“With the zero hours contracts, the gig economy and people feeling they have no option other than to take low paid cash-in-hand jobs to survive, means that there’s people who’ve fallen between the gaps. These voluntary services are invaluable to the community.”

Becky’s conversations with residents have revealed.

Despite all of this, there are many positive stories developing from these hardships.  Tyldesley and Victoria are the Blackpool wards which His Provision cover, they are two of the poorest areas in the country. Becky noted that,

“We are not inundated with requests, which shows our community is more resilient than people assume. It’s shows that people are helping each other out there seams to be a growth in community spirit.”

She gave a nice example.

“A gentleman came to us with this daughter, desperately needing support. We helped him out as he came back to us week after week. He’s now started to receive payments from the government, he visited the following week to make a donation and asked to volunteer, this wasn’t an isolated case.”

I was interested to know what the impact of working with His Provision during the crisis had on Becky, she said.

“It’s been very rewarding, I’ve gained a different set of skills and enjoyed working with the team, especially Mandy, The Director of the charity, she puts so much heart into her work and makes time for everyone. Despite everything, it’s been a lot of fun, there have been many memorable moments of camaraderie and it’s added a sense of normality and routine to these unique times.”

 

We are NOT trying to find the ‘bright side’ of this crisis, there is no clear way to make sense of a global pandemic. But we want to help to make sure that should this happen again, the people and communities that have suffered the most are more resilient to its effects.

We deliver work along the Fylde Coast, but are interested in hearing from people living in different areas too. Join the debate –@LeftCoastUK #LeftCoastDebates