Northern Soul and People’s Powerhouse are continuing our partnership to share good news stories about businesses, people and communities coming together in the North of England during the COVID-19 crisis.

This week, we chat to Duncan Swainsbury, director of Bounceback Food CIC, a community cookery school which has been fighting food poverty in the UK since 2014. The organisation supports communities in Greater Manchester, Cheshire and North Wales through public cookery courses and a food bank drive which uses a ‘buy one, give one’ model to generate social impact.

Northern Soul: Can you tell us a little bit about Bounceback Food? 

Duncan Swainsbury: Bounceback Food CIC is a community cookery school that supports people living in food poverty in Greater Manchester, Cheshire and North Wales. We teach people how to cook, we donate nutritious items of food to food banks from our ‘buy one, give one’ food bank drive at market events and provide catering services in disadvantaged areas. Since 2014 we have supported food bank beneficiaries, carers, stroke survivors and people living in sheltered accommodation and worked with schools, housing associations and partner charities to deliver social impact.

NS: What was the original response to the organisation? 

DS: The organisation began life as a market stall in Salford back in 2014. We used to sell a variety of non-perishable food such as pasta, rice, and tinned food on a ‘buy one, give one’ basis to generate donations for local food banks. People were really supportive of this proactive way of tackling food poverty and so we developed our public cookery courses with the same model. Paying for a ticket on our cookery courses generates a free place for someone referred to us from a partner charity or third sector organisation.

Bounceback Food CIC 2NS: What challenges have you faced during the COVID-19 pandemic?

DS: The majority of our face-to-face cookery courses and catering events were cancelled so we’ve had to completely change the way in which our social enterprise generates social impact. As part of our immediate response, we donated all our remaining stock to food banks and ran a telephone and email support service for carers in Manchester.

More recently, we’ve restarted our cookery workshops as online cook-a-longs and launched an online Cooking & Nutrition Portal that gives our beneficiaries free access to hundreds of healthy recipes, cooking tips and nutrition advice 24/7. We’ve also written our second fundraising recipe book, Secret Dishes From Around the World 2

NS: How has your community been affected by the crisis?

DS: It’s been incredibly tough for people living in food poverty. We’ve already seen increases in claims for Universal Credit, food bank parcels and unemployment levels look set to rise further, too.

NS: And how have they come together?

DS: It’s been heart-warming to see people go above and beyond to look out for one another. One example that comes to mind is how quickly the NHS Volunteer Scheme recruited over one million people to help out during the first lockdown.

Bounceback Food CIC Stroke AssociationNS: Have you been surprised by the reaction?

DS: No, there’s such a strong sense of community spirit in our country.

NS: What does a second lockdown mean for Bounceback? How can people help? 
DS: During the second lockdown, we’ll be stepping up our fight against food poverty by continuing to run our food bank drive at market events, on-boarding new partner charities across the UK who get access to our Cooking & Nutrition Portal and cook-a-longs, plus we’re hoping to run some free Christmas cook-a-longs from central Manchester where we can batch cook hot nutritious meals to distribute to those most in need over the festive period.
People can support our organisation by ordering a copy of our latest fundraising cookbook, Secret Dishes From Around the World 2. All proceeds go towards supporting our proactive fight against food poverty as we aim to scale up our social impact nationwide.

Bounceback Food CIC 3NS: What’s the most positive moment/thing you’ve experienced during the crisis?

DS: It was so inspiring to see Captain Tom Moore walk 100 lengths of his garden to fundraise for NHS Charities Together. He’s raised over £30 million and become an inspiration to so many people.

NS: What does the ‘new normal’ mean to you/for Bounceback Food?

DS: Our team in Manchester is now focused on building a community cookery school that can support people living in food poverty across the UK. With the development of our online cook-a-longs and pledge to provide five million free licenses to our Cooking & Nutrition Portal for partner charities, we’ve got the capacity to scale up our social impact at speed in order to meet the continuing challenges of COVID-19.

Main image by Sophia Carey.

The People's Powerhouse

To pre-order Secret Dishes From Around the World 2 or buy a gift voucher, click here. You can also book on to a Secret Dishes From Around the World Cook-along here and support their crowdfunding campaign here.