This winter, The Met is helping support Fusion Food; a food bank service for people in Bury facing difficulties accessing healthy food during the lockdown and due to the ongoing challenges of the pandemic. Our Chief Executive, Victoria Robinson, has blogged about how finding new ways to support our community has helped our team, and how we hope to keep building new partnerships.

As an arts Centre in a town, the work we do has always been much wider than that you see on the surface. Of course we run events, but we also run workshops, run a recording studio, nurture businesses and artists as well as consulting and advising for a range of partners. During the pandemic, we understood that culture was key in the well-being of our community in terms of both entertainment but also providing a source of company and connection. We were absolutely focused on supporting our community in any way we could.

I set up the ‘Creative Case’ group as a way to bring together community leaders to talk through ideas, projects and share needs and advice. The group is focused on diversity and equality and its ethos is giving a platform for discussion and to feed into other strategic groups in the borough. This has given community groups a much stronger voice. It also gave us the opportunity to help out in ways we couldn’t before.

Ayesha (Bury Active Women’s centre) had been running a food bank for around 6 people before the pandemic, which went up to over 70 families as COVID took hold. I encouraged group members to talk about their issues just in case any other partners could assist, and from this discussion and follow ups I suggested she used the smaller workshop room in The Met and move her food bank in with us. The workshop room is used for smaller, more intimate groups, but obviously with social distancing we can’t use that room as we normally would, and we don’t expect to use it for some time.

When we received the Culture Relief Fund, many of our anxieties over survival (at least in the short term) were removed. It meant we could start to have wider conversations about how we could help our community. As a staff team we have always tried to support food banks in the area, so the relationship with Ayesha was perfect for us.

The partnership didn’t just help Ayesha and the families she has been supporting. Our events staff had been furloughed since March and were desperate to get back to work. The food bank has given them a volunteering project too, and they now spend time between Met work and helping Ayesha to pack boxes and deliver food. This is great for staff well-being, and makes us all feel useful on so many different levels!

This pandemic has been hard for everyone, but it has given us the space to think differently. I hope the creative case group goes on to provide more partnerships like this and I know from Ayesha’s passion and enthusiasm that we will be working much closer together on many different projects in the future.

Victoria Robinson – December 2020.

The food bank is still accepting donations, with particular need for certain key items (see the list below). The Met box office will be open daily from Monday 14 – Saturday 19 December, 10am – 2pm (10am – 3pm on Saturday); we’re happy to be a drop-off point for any items you can spare:

UHT Milk
Chickpeas (tins or packs)
Red Kidney beans (tin or packs)
Cooking oil
Chappati flour
Tinned fruit
Sanitary Towels (no tampons)

Support The Met

The Met is a charity. We’ve worked hard to adapt and keep working during 2020 to bring entertainment to our community and extra support to those who need it. Membership, donations and business partners make a huge difference to our ability to do this.

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