12 Days of Christmas Giving – Harmony Helps Fund Abri Community Projects

As part of our ’12 Days of Christmas Giving’ campaign, we wanted to help support a top customer of ours with their mission of helping residents in some of their more deprived areas. When we reached out to Abri, we were presented with a range of community projects that were in need of additional funding. We were very pleased to offer Abri a donation of £1500 towards these projects and we requested some further information about what we would be helping with. In this blog post, you will see how our donation has been split across various projects as well as some further insight into the amazing work these people are carrying out this Christmas.

Landport Larder – £625

The Charles Dickens Ward is in the Portsmouth area and is one of the most impoverished wards in the city. The area itself falls into the top 10% most deprived areas in England according to IMD. There is high unemployment and a significant proportion of the local population are in social housing.

Abri, in a statement to us, said: “We know from talking to partners and residents in the ward that there are significant social issues that impact on how people live. Before the pandemic, there were already high levels of unemployment and people working in lower paid, more casual roles. When the pandemic took effect, these problems increased, with many put on furlough or losing their jobs. Research has found that the impact of the pandemic was more acutely felt in already deprived communities, and Charles Dickens was no exception. Many residents have long term health issues, which meant they were more vulnerable. The Charles Dickens Ward has the highest concentration of families with children on free school meals, and home schooling posed the challenge of having extra mouths to feed. 35% of children in Charles Dickens Ward live in relative low-income families, compared to 22% in the neighbouring St Thomas Ward.”

The Landport Larder project was set up in April 2021 to respond to growing issues around food insecurity in the Landport area. Foodbank use tripled in the initial stages of the pandemic and has yet to return to pre-pandemic levels in Portsmouth. The Portsmouth Foodbank Network exists to share information between all food providers in the city, and evidence suggests this is not a problem that will be resolved soon.

The Landport Larder provides access to fresh, tinned, and frozen goods at an affordable price. For just £3.50, residents can take away 10 items which would cost up to £20 to buy in the shop. Access is universal, not means-tested, so anyone can join. The larder provides help to people who may not be eligible for a foodbank, or for those that may not want to use one.

“The money that Harmony have kindly donated to us will be used to buy some essentials that customers may not have the money to purchase themselves. These essential household items will help improve one’s quality of life. Through speaking with customers that attend the larder, things like toiletries and washing products are needed within many households but often families are not able to afford these products. The money from Harmony will be used to purchase these items and create a ‘pack’ that we can then give to the customers that use the Larder scheme to help them over the festive period.” 

Longhedge, Salisbury – £625

£500.00 towards Christmas hampers for the Good Grub Club.

The Good Grub Club is a project to help ease food poverty during the school holidays, it has been in place since 2017 and is something that Abri run across some of their designated community investment zones. The Good Grub Club provides both short term relief in terms of a free meal and long-term support by delivering sessions with a focus on nutritional meals and hands on experience in cooking each of those meals from scratch. The club gets both the children and parents involved in preparing the meals, learning about and trying new ingredients and eating together. For some children, the hot school meals provided during term time is their main and, in some cases, only nutritious meal of the day and this club goes some way to fill that gap during their time off school.

“With the funds Harmony have kindly donated we will be able to provide each family with a Christmas food hamper to take home filled with ambient foods & festive treats that they otherwise may not of been able to afford themselves due to the added financial pressure during the Christmas holidays, this will make a lovely unexpected addition for families involved.”

£125.00 to the Pantry Partnership for Longhedge.

Many of Abri’s Longhedge residents have faced financial troubles following the lockdowns and as many of you will be aware, there is a large, UK-wide issue with food waste. The Pantry Partnership is a social enterprise company that supports both issues. The Pantry Partnership make weekly surplus fruit and vegetable deliveries to a volunteer resident who is able to distribute this out to families that need extra support on Longhedge.

“The additional funds donated by Harmony will allow us to purchase nutritious freshly cooked meals from The Pantry Partnership that can then be frozen then distributed out to families to give that additional support over the Christmas break as access to food support may not be as accessible until the new year.”

Millbrook Matters – £250

Millbrook Matters is a community led organisation created to provide a voice and movement for change on Abri’s Millbrook estate in Southampton. The Millbrook estate falls within the 10% most deprived areas in the UK and therefore many of its resident’s face challenges of low income, high unemployment, anti-social behaviour and crime. Millbrook Matters aims to provide the community a voice and vehicle to change this, acting as the go-between for residents and key organisations. They work on a truly grass roots basis, acting on the demands and desires of those living on the estate. Part of this work is to create a better sense of community cohesion across the estate, putting on activities and events which aim to bring people together, create a place for neighbours to interact and build positive relationships. These such events are highly beneficial to the community in terms of changing people’s mentality about their living environment, but also starting to alleviate some of the key challenges facing the area.

This Christmas, the Millbrook Matters team are putting on a variety of Christmas events and competitions to bring the community together including a Christmas lights competition and a games evening for children. They are looking for support from local organisations to help them with prizes for these events. As a group, Millbrook Matters have no income, they are grateful for any donation towards their events.

“We have an invested interest in the Millbrook area as it is one of our key investment zones. We have worked closely with Millbrook Matters to help them establish and mobilise across the estate and would welcome the opportunity to support them further this Christmas with the help of Harmony Fire.”


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