Delivering Food Boxes to the Local Community

In partnership with Fresh Direct we delivered food boxes to key workers and vulnerable people. In the process we raised money for our local NHS hospital, Salford Royal Foundation Trust.

Fresh Direct is one of UK’s largest fresh food suppliers to the hospitality sector and employ around 1500 people in the UK.  When coronavirus forced the closure of restaurants, hotels, cafes and pubs, Fresh Direct were faced with the daunting prospect of tonnes of fresh food going to waste. 

During a time where Supermarkets were struggling with demand and elderly people couldn’t get outdoors we simply couldn’t let this happen.

We turned to our family of 70 employees across the Forest Sofa group, and asked for volunteers to help us distribute tonnes of food across the community to the people who needed it the most.

With a short shelf-life on fresh food we had to work quickly. Over 2 weeks we did everything we could to get over 2000 fresh food boxes out to the local people. 

Forest Sofa Managing Director, Ryan Mohieddin

Event 1 – food boxes to raise money for the NHS

We started off with a small, local event, which took place before social distancing was fully in force.

At this time coronavirus scare had caused the British public to start stockpiling, which had left supermarkets short of stock. Elderly and vulnerable people were also self-isolating and couldn’t go outdoors – particularly into crowded spaces.

Fresh Direct supplied food that would otherwise be wasted and together we held an event at The White Horse, Worsley; a Greene King pub and one of Fresh Directs customers. Food was boxed up and sold to the community for a small price of £5 – every penny was donated to our local NHS hospital, Salford Royal Foundation Trust.

This event proved there was a demand for food sources – it was a great success and £3800 was donated to Salford Royal Foundation Trust.

Food boxes were sold for £5 and money raised was donated to the NHS.

Event 2 – donations to Humphrey Booth Day Care Centre

One week after our first event and corona guidelines had increased in the UK. Isolation and social distancing was more prominent, so we needed to send food to the community with even less contact with people.

Our factories had to close and we had to furlough around 70 people. Whilst this is still deeply disappointing to us as a business, our entire team and our customers the health and safety of our our staff, couriers and customers are our main priority. 

While the business slowed down, we looked at the brighter side – furloughed staff meant we now had empty vans, some free time and even more people. Team members from our group companies The Chesterfield Company, The English Sofa Company, The English Bed Company, Forest Contract volunteered to help.

We made calls to find someone in need. Eventually we made contact with Humphrey Booth Day Care Centre, an Age UK charity who offer three-course lunches, daily refreshments and a takeaway meal service to the elderly. A place that is critical to the wellbeing of the elderly people in our community.

The charity centre was closed, and it was becoming increasingly difficult for them to buy food. 

We were able to supply them with 7 pallets of fresh food.

Humphrey Booth Day Care Centre with food they can donate to the elderly.

Event 3 – donations to the local community

Fresh Direct had more food – another 800 boxes.

We planned to donate the food to those who needed it in the local community, but we needed more people. We started asking for volunteers in the wider community and we were saved by St. Mary’s Church in Ellenbrook, who helped us deliver all 800 boxes.

Members of the church loaded up their cars with food boxes and each box was dropped at the door of vulnerable adults, local residents and key workers.

The outcome of this event was quite overwhelming with the community sharing their thanks on the church Facebook group.

“I was incredibly grateful and overwhelmed today when a box of fresh fruit and veg was dropped at my door. We have shared this with grandparents that cant get out but the kindness of this really warmed my heart. Thank you so much for doing what you do. In a world where you can be anything, be kind.”

“Thank you so much for our fruit and veg box. It was lovely to see a friendly face and to know we are being thought of. Thank you.”

“Passed our box of fruit and veg to grandparents in self isolation …it was very much appreciated…there were tears!”

Vehicles were full of food!

Day 4 – the grand finale!

As we all know – the changing rules and regulations of corona have been challenging and it felt like every time we tried to organise a food giveaway we had to negotiate more stringent rules.

For the grand finale we received yet another 700 boxes of fresh fruit, salad and veg, donated again by our friends at Fresh Direct, but this time we wanted to use the opportunity to show our appreciation for our Key Workers.

Between our team, Fresh Direct and some volunteers 700 food boxes were made up and distributed throughout the day:

The North West Fire Control jointly handle all 999 emergency calls and are responsible for mobilising firefighters and fire engines to incidents in Cumbria, Lancashire, Greater Manchester and Cheshire.

Boxes were dropped at the door of vulnerable people – keeping the social distancing rules.

  • 180 to the Community Mental Health Teams (CMHT) serving Salford.

Boxes were delivered to Ramsgate House, Prescott House and Cromwell House.

They distributed 10 food boxes to Lancaster House – a local care home, 10 boxes to members of the congregation who were isolating and 30 boxes to Barnabus a charity that helps the homeless and vulnerable in Manchester.

These boxes were given to district nurses who work in the community and look after people once they’ve been released from hospital.

Social workers specialising in the welfare of vulnerable adults in our community were given 60 boxes.

Key workers receiving food boxes

A standing ovation

Our final drop at Meadway health centre was possibly the most overwhelming of them all.

We walked in to what felt like an undeserved standing ovation from the true heroes – our key workers.

During this pandemic we, as a nation have a new-found or heightened appreciation for our key workers – more so than ever before, and long may it last.

Whist it was a touching moment to see their appreciation, the real applause goes to all of our Key Workers for their dedication and hard work.

Thank you

We would like to thank Fresh Direct for supplying food and volunteering their time to donate the food to the people who needed it the most.

It would not have been possible to do this without the help of our teams, Fresh Direct, the church and our local community.

Thank you to everyone who kindly shared this movement on their social media, left comments in the Facebook groups and paid it forward by sharing food with others who needed it.

Finally, a thank you to our customers, to those who are with us as we negotiate this very difficult time. Your commitment to our business is appreciated and knowing we will come back to your orders is reassuring for us and our family of 70 employees.

We look forward to reopening our factories and pressing on with your orders.

A food box with thank you letter

What’s next?

We received an email from Karen, the vicar at St. Mary’s Church. She described the food delivery movement as triggering a “wave of kindness” – people have asked where they can donate, so we set up a Virgin Money Giving Page for Mustard Tree.

If you have been moved by this campaign and would like to donate please visit our Virgin Money Giving page. Mustard Tree is a charity committed to providing an emergency food offer, supported by volunteers. During these unprecedented times They are focusing on food clubs, toiletries, clothes, food supply and distribution including managing donations from the public.

“We have been bowled over by your staggering generosity. You have been operating non-stop, in stressful conditions and must be exhausted! I can’t keep up with the responses we  are getting from people, it’s like a wave of kindness has been triggered. People are sharing with neighbours and I honestly think they are appreciating their food. What you have done will impact on our community for a very long time and the stories will continue.  You have both given so selflessly and people will be sleeping more peacefully because of you. I do not exaggerate. The well being of those who received gifts as well as those who delivered has been tangible.”

Wear It Pink-Pink Friday | Forest Sofa

On Friday the 19th of October we took part in Wear It Pink, one of the biggest fundraisers in the country, and our staff wore a variety of pink clothing to support Breast Cancer Now. Some of our staff baked some lovely pink cakes too to help raise some more money for this great cause.

Wear It PinkWear It Pink

Every Year, Breast Cancer Now holds Wear It Pink to raise awareness and money for the UK’s largest Breast Cancer Charity. Taking place during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, thousands of people wear it pink in their communities and workplaces every year to support the charity. This year, we were proud to be some of the 17,907 people who signed up to take part.

Wear It PinkWear It Pink

We’re happy to support Breast Cancer Now, and have done for many years by raising money on Pink Friday. Everyone from our upholsterers and machinists, to our office staff took part and dressed up for the occasion. This year, we raised £192.44! It was great to see everyone wearing pink whilst supporting a great cause, and we’ll be doing it again next year, too!

Santander Internship Programme

We were recently invited to the Santander Breakthrough Finding Talent and Expertise event, with two of our staff being asked to be guest speakers. They spoke to representatives from 30 other companies about how the Santander Internship Programme has benefitted both them and Forest.

Internship Programme

The day included networking, guest speaking and a question and answer session. Nissi, who was one of our guest speakers at the event, came through the Santander Internship Programme and is now our Marketing Manager-proving how beneficial the scheme has been-and can be-for SMEs when it comes to attracting and retaining talent.

Nissi spoke about his experience whilst on the scheme, detailing how important gaining work experience and being involved in a marketing environment was. He went on to say that it proved valuable when it came to doing his Masters whilst working at the same time, as it gave him more experiences and knowledge to draw from.

Internship Programme

It’s these experiences that also proved useful for him, as he then went on to get a full time job as a Digital Marketing Assistant with us and eventually moved on to becoming the Marketing Manager. This demonstrates the advantages of hiring interns, as we believe developing them is mutually beneficial-the same goes for our apprentices. 

Nick was our other speaker at the event, and he explained the advantages of the programme to businesses. The programme helps fund SMEs when they want to hire interns, so it helps save initial costs, and gives companies the opportunity to offer the intern a full time role afterwards, which is what we did with Nissi. The scheme gives SMEs like us to have greater access to talent, and it has been especially beneficial in this case.

Forest Sofa Receives Business Growth Award

Forest Sofa Wins Growth Award

Forest Sofa recently received an award for “Outstanding achievement and highest growth” at the Resilience for Sustainable High Growth Symposium and Awards, recognising the changes and development of the company during recent times.


This comes after Ryan, our Managing Director, attended The Greater Manchester High Growth Network programme at Manchester Metropolitan University. We believe we won this award as recognition of our vision “To turn houses into homes, and buildings into venues”. This means that we are proud of what we produce because we understand how important a sofa is in any room. It can be the centre piece of a living room, a go-to option for relaxation or family time, or a piece to bring the whole room together. We know how imperative this is, and we think about this every time we make a piece of furniture.

Growth Award Image

The course, delivered at MMU’s Centre for Enterprise, included companies based in Greater Manchester who were aiming for high growth. The sessions included peer growth group sessions to give us a chance to network and speak to other companies about their experiences. The award was received at Emirates Old Trafford, where the companies involved could celebrate their achievements. The fact that we received this award acknowledges our tremendous growth in recent times, and reinforces our core values which have led to this growth.

We’re happy to receive the growth award, and we hope to continue our recent growth into the near future and beyond.

Forest Sofa-Christmas Jumper Day

Christmas Jumper day

Today, our staff have been celebrating Christmas Jumper Day! There has been a massive variety of jumpers, hats and accessories on show-there’s even a onesie!

We’ve picked the best ones and awarded them some prizes. Nissi gets first place with his homemade Christmas jumper, and he can be seen below showing it off.

Ryan comes in second with his onesie (which is shown in the group photo) and his colourful Christmas shirt.

In the factory, Gary and Matt get prizes for their fantastic jumpers. They both look pleased with their chocolate!

Overall, it was a great effort from the staff, and there were too many good ones to mention, but I’m sure you’ll be able to see them in the group photos.

Keep an eye on our social media pages for the full albums!

This yearly tradition also marks the start of our countdown to Christmas! There isn’t long before we close for the holidays, but check our social pages soon for our opening times for over Christmas period.

Upholstery Sewing Machinist – A dying profession ?

Forest sofa is proud to be able to provide a commercial and competitive range of upholstered seating solutions with our full range manufactured in Manchester, England.

Whilst proud to employ over 50 local staff, we are challenged by the apparent lack of skilled workers in the field of Upholstery Sewing / Machinist as well as Deep Buttoned Upholsterers.

Upholstery Manufacture in the North of England was a significant contributor to the UK’s Manufacturing output as recently as 20 years ago. Increasingly UK Manufacturers have switched their own production from sites in the UK to the Middle East or Eastern Europe, or have been forced out of Manufacturing all together. Some UK manufacturers have adopted a mix mode approach, offering a limited range from their UK factory, but producing the majority of the range overseas, at the expense of local workings. Workers in Preston were affected significantly in recent years by one well known manufacturer moving it’s production to maintain margin and remain competitive.

Forest Sofa Ltd is pleased to be one of the few UK Manufacturers that are able to grow in this challenging economic climate, and can do so by offering a good quality UK sofa at a fair price. “It’s no about being the cheapest when times are hard, it’s value that families are looking for.” Whilst Forest 2012 sales continue to impress and exceed expectations, the business is challenged in it’s growth by the apparent lack of skilled upholstery workers in the Manchester area. The downturn in local skills in manufacturing in general is as a result of the change in the manufacturing landscape in the UK and the North of England, a consequence of the effects of increased imports.

Chesterfield Sofas are a true British product that requires craft, skill and guile, the traits often past down through families from generation to generation is slowly being eroded through a period of short time working and years of disillusion. Getting skilled staff back into UK manufacturing is a challenge for Forest Sofa, but also many other UK manufacturers attempting to grow their business. The reach and search for the recruitment for the positions of Upholstery Machinist and Deep Buttoned Upholsterers is becoming wider, with adverts currently placed in the Bolton, Bury, Accrington and Macclesfield press.

Agencies propose a solution to the shortage, regrettably however often with workers based outside the UK.