NewStarts, a community re-use social enterprise, based in Birmingham, received £5,000 from the Foundation to boost their food bank and support the vulnerable during the pandemic.

During the pandemic NewStarts had to close their furniture store, meaning their main source of income disappeared. With the demand for their food bank rising 1000% they had to make a difficult decision. Marion Kenyon, Chief Executive of New Starts, explained:

“At the beginning of lockdown we had two months of running costs left and 70% of our income comes from selling furniture. It was a huge risk for us to continue with the food bank. Fortunately, we secured a lot of grants that enabled us to keep providing the service during several lockdowns.”

The £5,000 grant from the NNS Emergency Food & Essential Supplies grant enabled NewStarts to continue providing high quality, ongoing support to the people who needed it most. Marion continued:

“Last year we spent just under £164,000 on food. Heart of England’s grant helped towards purchasing the fresh ingredients. We wanted the service to be ongoing and the idea of only providing tinned food filled me with horror. Firstly, we registered as a food premises and then we were able to start purchasing fresh meat, veg, fruit, bread, butter and cheese from local suppliers. Our parcels provided enough food for seven days rather than three.”

The pandemic left many people furloughed or redundant, NewStarts noticed the many new faces in need of their service. Marion shared a beneficiaries’ story:

“Mary and her family were at their wits end. Before lockdown, her husband had been injured which made it difficult for him to return to his normal work. His injuries meant that Mary had to stop working, but still needed the funds to look after their young child and pay their mortgage. When the first lockdown hit, Mary approached us in desperation after selling their car and were in the process of selling their family home just to make ends meet.


“We were able to provide them with seven-day food parcels, which included fresh meat, cheese, eggs, bread, butter, cheese, fruit and vegetables. They were overwhelmed with the support they received and were incredibly grateful.”

NewStarts have been able to send out over 154,000 meals over the pandemic, with each parcel costing 64p, thanks to deals from local suppliers and receiving tinned goods at retail price from Morrisons. Marion concluded:

“When we’ve delivered the food parcels, we’ve seen people in tears, overwhelmed at the quality and amount of food they received. It has been truly touching but it’s also really sad that in a western country in the 21st they’re so overwhelmed just to receive basic supplies to survive.


“When you give the money directly to the charities, the money goes a lot further. It’s been difficult to tell families what to eat for a month, let alone for a year and we have been providing meals to families for at least a year. The grants have been incredibly useful, without them, whether large or small, our services would have stopped.”

If you’d like to apply for funding please view our Available Grants here.