A new charity initiative with support from Amazon, former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Wigan and Leigh charity The Brick, and Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham will donate more than 400,000 surplus essential goods to more than 50,000 families in need in Greater Manchester this year.
The ‘Brick-by-Brick’ 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.
In February 2023, more than 32,500 people in Wigan and Leigh were claiming Universal Credit, and 29 of the borough’s 200 neighbourhoods fall within the 10% most deprived neighbourhoods in England, accounting for roughly 15%of Wigan’s total population.
The project 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 with more than 500,000 products donated.
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.”
“Brick by Brick is a path-breaking project that links companies who have surplus goods to charities who know the people who need them.”
Former Prime Minister
The ‘Brick-by-Brick’ project will bring 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 at the right time. The multibank model is agile – it will 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.
“At Amazon, we know we can make a meaningful difference in the lives of people when they need it most” said John Boumphrey, UK Country Manager, Amazon. “We’re proud to work hand-in-hand with outstanding local care professionals and charities like The Brick, who have deep connections with their community; with other businesses that are providing essential goods; and with Gordon Brown and Andy Burnham to bring this new charitable model in Wigan and Leigh.
“The partnership model we have created has helped thousands of families in Scotland already, and we look forward to providing much-needed support to families in other communities in Greater Manchester this year.”
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.
Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, said: “Last year, Gordon Brown invited me to Fife to see for myself the work he was doing with Amazon and a local charity there to support thousands of families with essential household items. The project made a huge difference to people’s lives and that’s why I was determined to work with Gordon and Amazon to set up a pilot in Greater Manchester. I’m delighted that we’ve been able to support the partnership with The Brick and I’m blown away by what has been achieved so far.
“Families in Wigan are struggling in this cost of living crisis and that is why this project is vital in helping those who need it most. During these difficult times, it’s right that the public, private and VCSE sector work together and do what we can to alleviate difficulties. I congratulate all those involved in this, and look forward to it being rolled out elsewhere across Greater Manchester.”
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.”
Brick-by-Brick builds on a wide range of charitable partnerships that Amazon supports. The company donates millions of products to more than 2,000 charities and volunteer organisations every year, like In Kind Direct. In 2022, Amazon facilitated the donations of more than 10 million products to charities across the UK through its Retail and Fresh operations, as well as Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA) Donations, a programme which helps independent sellers using the Fulfilment by Amazon service donate their overstock or returned items automatically. The process is easy for sellers, from coordination to delivery, where Amazon uses its supply chain and operational expertise so that the right items get to the right charity partners to give more products a second life.
Amazon is committed to the communities where it operates across Greater Manchester and the UK. The company has delivered more than 870,000 healthy breakfasts to vulnerable children and schools across the North-West in a partnership with Magic Breakfast. Amazon granted more than £130,000 to charities across the region last year, including Coffee4Craig, The Mustard Tree, and The Bread and Butter Thing, who all provide support for people in need across Greater Manchester. In 2021, the company contributed over £100 million in support for charities, healthcare organisations and our local communities across the UK. This year, Amazon partnered with Comic Relief for Red Nose Day, with the brand-new Red Nose, created by legendary designer Sir Jony Ive, available to buy on Amazon for the first time. Amazon has also donated £1.8 million as part of its support for Comic Relief, helping to fund projects that support people struggling with the cost-of-living crisis and tackle issues such as homelessness, mental health problems, and food poverty here in the UK and around the world.
Read more about The Big House, Amazon’s first ‘multibank’ initiative in Scotland.