A salvation Army officer has called for a “one-stop shop” for Preston’s needy after admitting emergency systems in the city are confusing.
Capt Alex Cadogan, who is heading the Christmas food bank appeal, believes some families and individuals are slipping through the net because they don’t know where to go for help.
“It’s a really complicated system and I’m sure there are those who are missing out because of that,” he said as the Salvation Army put on a Christmas dinner for around 100 of the city’s neediest at their headquarters in Harrington Street. “If you are unfortunate enough to fall on hard times, where do you go? Many people don’t know and we have got to make it easier for them to seek help than it is at present.
“There are a number of agencies which deal with the poor and the homeless. But they are not all together in one place and it is difficult for people with these sorts of needs to know just where they should go.
“Someone should pull all these agencies together in a one-stop shop where all those in difficulty can go and seek assistance.
“But I’ve got to admit I don’t know who should be responsible. Should it be the city council, the county council, who should it be?
“The message we are trying to get out to people, especially as Christmas time is approaching, is there is a safety net out there to catch them. The trouble is it is getting stretched and the holes are getting bigger.”
Some of those enjoying the turkey and trimmings at the annual Christmas lunch were homeless, others included recovering addicts and families in desperate need of a hot meal.
“Normally on a Friday lunchtime we get about 70, but today it is around the 100 mark,” said Capt Cadogan. “Some of these people are living right on the edge, they are people without very much in life.
“Everyone had crackers and a packet of Love Hearts on the table to show them someone loves them. They also got a Christmas present at the end. It’s humbling to see how grateful they are.”