banner_webYou don’t need us to tell you that Christmas is a time for giving. If we ever happen to forget there will always be an emotive John Lewis ad to remind us.

But the festive period is not only about giving presents to those you know; it’s also a time to think of those who might be less fortunate.

This year the average person will spend just less than £300 pounds on gifts according to Give as you Live, while the Daily Mail has reported that Britons will spend £868 on average during the festive season, an increase on the figure given by YouGov of £822.

Meanwhile, it’s difficult to ignore that times are getting harder for a great deal of people. There have been numerous reports in recent years of an increase in the number of people relying on hand-outs, especially those from food banks.

There are many food banks around the Northwest (and beyond!) that rely on donations from individuals and businesses. There are also plenty of local charities that give food to those in need. One such charity is Mustard Tree. They provide support for the homeless and marginalised of Manchester and food donations are just a small way in which the public can help their cause.

Privately many of us have the best charitable intentions, but when you’re spending shedloads of money at Christmas, it can sometimes feel like a jump to spend just that extra few quid on people you don’t know.

However, at a time when people are eating, drinking, and spending excessively, it’s a nice idea to spare a thought (and a bit of cash!) for those who won’t be. So if you’re not feeling the overwhelming urge to donate food, here are some ways to make it feel less painful:

  • Does your business do a secret Santa at this time of year? Why not get your colleagues/employees to get presents for each other but also a present for food drives at the same time?
  • Are you an individual or business owner with a Costco account or an account with another wholesaler? Why not bulk buy and donate the lot or take some for yourself and give away the rest?
  • If you see BOGOF offers on shower gel, hand soap, and deodorant (or anything for that matter) why not get one for yourself and donate the other?

The FireCask team work very closely with Mustard Tree who does amazing work for those in need. We’ll give the full list of the best kind of items to buy below, but first a few tips. Try to buy tinned goods with ring pulls as not everyone owns a tin-opener. Think cheap but nutritious – tinned beans, vegetables, and fish – but don’t overlook the comforting foodstuffs like a tin of all-day breakfast! Noodles are a versatile and cheap ingredient – you can pick up huge packs at the shops in Chinatown. Same goes for rice – search out cheap sacks at Asian grocers.

Here’s Mustard Tree’s list:






Cereal; porridge, muesli

Vegetables (including Mash)



(Ring pulls preferred)

Meats; Corn Beef, Ham, Chicken

Ready Meals

Cream (Milk)

All Day Breakfast


Sardines and others




Noodles Snacks


UHT Milk


Breakfast Bars



Liquid soap

Soap flakes


Body Wash and or Wipes

Mouth Wash

Soft drinks

Shampoo Sachets

Ladies Sanitary items

Shaving Creams and lotions

FireCask are opening their office as a food collection point (please have all donations with us by Monday 16th December) for anyone based in the city centre that cannot make it to Mustard Tree. Alternatively, you can give food to Mustard Tree; you can visit their headquarters in Ancoats or their shop in Eccles. For all details about getting in touch, see below:

Mustard Tree

110 Oldham Rd



M4 6AG

T: 0161 228 7331


Office Opening Hours:

Monday – Friday: 09:00 – 17:00

Saturday: 09:00 – 10:00

Sunday: Closed

Ancoats, Open to Clients:

Monday – Wednesday & Friday: 10:00 – 16:30

Thursday: Closed

Saturday: 10:00 – 16:00

Sunday: Closed

Eccles, Open to Clients

Monday – Friday: 09:00 – 16:30

Saturday: 09:00 – 13:00

Sunday: Closed