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‘Multibank’ opens to support 50,000 Greater Manchester families in need


A charity initiative has launched to support thousands of families in need across Greater Manchester this year.

With support from Amazon, former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Wigan and Leigh charity The Brick, and Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, the Brick-by-Brick project will donate more than 400,000 surplus essential goods to more than 50,000 families in need during 2023.

The project will be a community donations hub where Amazon and other companies can donate a wide range of surplus products and reach people directly through a network of charity groups and care professionals in the community including teachers, midwives and social workers.

It is an extension of the ‘multibank’ model first launched in Fife, Scotland as ‘The Big House’ in 2022. It was led by Amazon, Gordon Brown and local charity The Cottage Family Centre, which has now supported 50,000 families in Fife, Edinburgh and the Lothians.

The Brick-by-Brick project will use the knowledge and network of Wigan charity The Brick together with other local charities, logistics expertise and donations from Amazon, as well as product donations from other national and local retailers to provide the right products when they’re needed. The multibank model has been designed to be agile so it can onboard new suppliers and partners to provide products that meet the particular needs of families in the area. This includes essential items like bedding, toiletries, nappies, wipes, clothing, backpacks, home furnishings, lightings and electrical products.

Amazon helped set up the warehouse operations at the Brick-by-Brick project site in Wigan with a contribution of pro-bono staffing, operations advice and an initial cash grant of £100,000 to support the recruitment, salaries and training of the team.

Gordon Brown, former Prime Minister, said:

“I am delighted that the multibank which started in Fife in Scotland as ‘The Big House’ is now being opened in Wigan as the ‘Brick by Brick’ project serving families in the region. And I want to applaud the combined efforts of The Brick charity and Amazon who have already provided 60,000 goods to families free of charge.


“Brick by Brick is a path-breaking project that links companies who have surplus goods to charities who know the people who need them. And it is providing toiletries, bedding and furnishings, clothes and food with a delivery target for Greater Manchester as ambitious as in Scotland which has delivered 500,000 goods, worth around £10 million in its first year.”

Keely Dalfen, CEO of The Brick, added:

“The Brick, and the wider voluntary and third sector, is facing unprecedented demand as the cost of living crisis hits families hard. An increasing number of individuals and families need advice and practical assistance, and our services are stretched like never before. Added to this already harsh situation, we are now seeing significantly more in-work families pushed into poverty.


“Through this project we are now able to provide additional help to the people in need in our borough. By facilitating this project we are taking action to tackle the huge crisis that we are facing. We are proud to be working on this true collaborative, joined-up initiative with a cross-sector coalition of businesses, charity partners, schools, health centres, GP surgeries and social work departments to bring together communities, expertise and the vision to make a difference to the lives of people across Greater Manchester.”

Scotland’s Big House

The Big House initially committed to supporting families in Fife when it launched and has since expanded to Edinburgh and The Lothians. February marked a milestone of 500,000 products, worth around £10mn, donated principally by Amazon, but with support from other businesses, including Fishers Laundry, Craig & Rose Paint, Morrisons, The Paint Shed, Blue Earth Clean, Tesco, SemiChem, Vision, Morrisons, Scotmid, Purvis, PepsiCo, the Bell Group and others.

So far, 500 charity and social partners, including social workers, teachers and midwives, have been able to access goods from the Lochgelly warehouse to support those they serve. Working as agents, they make referrals on behalf of their clients for household goods they require, which are then processed by warehouse staff and made available for collection to be delivered by charity partners to local families.

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