Jason Manford visits warm hub in Stockport
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Comedian Jason Manford has lifted the lid on his early years growing up, recalling his parents’ struggles to heat their home and put food on the table.
Family holidays and even school uniforms were an impossibility without help from charities.
And before his big break in 2007 with a small role in sitcom ‘Ideal’, the aspiring comedian picked up odd jobs where he could and gave back to his parents from the little he had.
He said: “I always say I only realised I had an underprivileged childhood later on in life. At the time you don’t know, do you? You have nothing to compare it to.
“My parents did a great job of bringing us all up, and there was a lot of laughter in the house, but we had charities help us out sometimes.
“The Lord Mayor’s Fund helped us with school uniforms. Our only holiday in my childhood was paid for by the same charity.
“But also, we got by with the kindness of family and friends and neighbours.
“All the kids were out together hanging around, playing games, messing around. We were just there for each other.”
His experiences have inspired his passion to give back to communities through charity work.
Jason was speaking after he served up of bowls of porridge to those in need at his local warm hub in his hometown of Stockport – one of 47 warm hubs supported by Quaker Oats in the UK, via a partnership with charity Groundwork.
In the last year, demand for warm hubs – local, free facilities offering somewhere warm for people to go and enjoy a hot meal or drink – and food banks is currently at a record high, with 19 percent of people having used a food bank or food donation point this year.
Despite these challenging times, Brits are rallying together, with nearly half having donated money to charities.
The star of ITV’s Starstruck also revealed how he made ends meet as an aspiring comic, travelling around the country trying to make a name for himself.
Jason said: “A lot of that period in your career is a shared experience with other performers and comics.
“A lot of the journeys were shared, petrol was divided up, you would play gigs that provided a meal and a drink, so you didn’t have to spend money.
“Those gigs for a long time were unpaid, you did it for the experience and to make headway with certain promoters.
“I would be doing my day job and then jump in a car, or train, to get to a gig in the evening.
“So, you sort of look back on it fondly cause that’s the way our brains work, but it was a struggle at times.”
Jason, who has partnered with Quaker Oats for its Share the Warmth campaign, was also surprised by how welcoming the warm hub was, despite it being something set up, in theory, for people struggling.
He said: “Anybody’s welcome. Obviously, it is for people who are struggling, but lots of people are struggling in different ways.
“Some people are struggling financially and literally can’t afford to heat their house, so they need to go somewhere warm and have porridge and a cup of tea.
“But some people are struggling mentally and haven’t seen or spoken to another human for a few days.
“Nobody’s checking your bank balance to see if you’re poor enough to use it. If you feel like you need it, then go along.
“If you’ve got a few hours where you think you could get out of the house and seeing somebody different other than these four walls, then it’s definitely the place for everybody.”
People can pick up a promotional pack of Quaker Oats to donate a warm breakfast to someone in need, in supermarkets now.
The porridge oats brand is also donating up to 2.5 million warm breakfasts through charity partnerships with Magic Breakfast and Fareshare.
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