In these uncertain and increasingly difficult economic times the dependence on food banks by a growing number of people has increased significantly and the help and support the food banks provide across the length and breadth of the area that the Chorley and Leyland Group covers has never been needed more than at present.
This year the group has again participated in the Provincial Christmas Food Bank appeal and a huge thank you goes to the lodges, chapters and many individuals who have donated. An astonishing total of £7,200 has been raised. Three food bank charities that operate in the towns and communities within the group have benefitted, with each receiving an equal share of the total.
Urban Outreach is a long-established ‘Storehouse’ food bank located in the centre of Bolton which provides weekly food parcels all year round to those in need across the borough, including Horwich and Westhoughton and surrounding areas. Primarily the project supports families and single people in distress as a result of redundancy, illness, debt, adverse changes or a delay in benefits, including those who have been sanctioned. Other reasons for people needing to make use of the food bank are homelessness and family breakdown.
Dave Bagley, a founder of Urban Outreach, along with group treasurer Colin Preston, thanked all the brethren of the group for the very generous donation which will be used to great effect in purchasing much needed fresh and perishable produce and provisions which make up the food parcels that are distributed to those in need every week throughout the year. A quote from the Urban Outreach website which demonstrates the increasing need for these services reads: “During the last year we delivered 23,126 food parcels. In total we have collected, purchased and redistributed over 170 tonnes of food during this period. Just to give some idea of the scale of change, prior to the pandemic we would typically redistribute some 62 tonnes of food annually.”
The Leyland Food Bank operates out of St Mary’s Church in Leyland and provides both temporary and ongoing relief to those in need from in and around the Leyland area. Over the past couple of years the requests for help have more than double from pre-pandemic levels and is still increasing as the difficult economic time continue. The Chorley and Leyland Group Vice Chairman David Bishop presented the donation to Celia Neill, the co-ordinator for the Leyland Food bank. Celia gave her sincere and heartfelt thanks to all the members of the group and said that the donation will go a long way in providing relief to the increasing number of people who call on them for help and support and added that the money will enable them to assist the many families in need, not only over the Christmas period but well into the New Year.
Chorley Help the Homeless is a charity that operates out of the centre of Chorley and provides food parcels, along with essential household items such as crockery, cutlery and bedding, as well as warm clothing. They operate as a ‘drop-in centre’ and welcomes anyone who comes through its doors. From their premises they also provide a warm social space for people to simply come along for a hot meal and a chat, as well as holding helpful events that promote personal development and assistance in getting their lives back on track.
The charity also operates the ‘Chorley Market Food Voucher’ scheme as part of its food bank where those in need are given vouchers to purchase essential food items from a number of the participating stalls on Chorley Market. This is a worthwhile scheme, described as a ‘Win-Win-Win’; first by allowing the individual to buy themselves food, which secondly provides a helping hand to their confidence and dignity, and last but not least it also provides a boost to the local economy, particularly the participating stalls on Chorley Market.
Lucy Perkins, a trustee of the charity, thanked the group for the generous donation and explained how it will help in continuing to provide the help and support to an ever-increasing number of people who are coming to them for help.