Why this Chorley community group that helps to tackles poverty and loneliness is appealing for help

A Chorley community group helping to battle poverty and loneliness is appealing for help.

By Laura Longworth
Thursday, 16th April 2020, 6:00 am
Updated Friday, 17th April 2020, 9:52 am

Volunteers at Watch Us Grow, which is based at St Laurence's Church in Union Street, are making and delivering food parcels for vulnerable people on Friday and Saturday afternoons.

Now founder Andrea Horrocks is calling on the community to donate daily essential items and long-life food.

Andrea said: "I think this service is massive and vital at the moment, as lots of people are struggling."

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Andrea Horrocks (far left), founder of Chorley community group Watch Us Grow, with her team of volunteers.

The group has been serving meals on Fridays and Saturdays from 1-30 to 3-30pm for the last two years.

Some 20 to 40 guests enjoy a hot cooked meal on Fridays, and Greggs sandwiches and pastries on Saturdays.

"Greggs is the one that really got us going. It had been donating its leftover food to us every day for the past 12 months, before the lock-down," said Andrea.

Aldi, M&S, Lidl and Tesco also all make regular donations.

Andrea adds that anyone is welcome to the cafe - but it has now temporarily closed its doors.

"It's not just for people who are homeless or on benefits. It's also for people who are struggling in other ways or are socially isolated and want some company. It's a day out for them, and people come from out of town," she said.

"Last summer we went to Cuerden Valley Park every night with some food from Greggs, karaoke machines and bats and balls, just for some fun, and other people from the park ended up joining in with us."

Andrea and the team were determined to continue helping people when the lock-down banned public gatherings, and put their heads together to come up with a new way to serve the community.

That's when they decided to create food parcels, comprising items like toiletries, toilet roll, pasta, washing up liquid, tinned goods, biscuits, cereal, and tea and coffee, which are designed to last a couple of days.

They gave out a total of around 100 packs last Friday and Saturday.

"We need to help keep these people going - they rely on us," the founder said.

"We're worried that they will struggle to eat.

"So, I started to reach out to people on Facebook and they began donating to us. We received loads of Easter eggs, and someone gave us tins of biscuits."

They also received numerous messages from people who are isolated or struggling to access essential services - and realised they needed even more help to meet the demand.

Fortunately, Amigos takeaway in Chorley stepped in by offering to make 20 cooked meals for the team to hand out this Friday.

Bee's Country Kitchen is also donating prepared hot dishes while Bernie Heggaty from Chorley Council has arranged for items like snacks and Pot Noodles to be included in the food packs.

And Stacey Turner from CG Professionals in Chorley has offered them £100, as well as a food donation.

Andrea would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has supported them, including businessman Craig Willets and his team of volunteers, who they are teaming up with for extra help.

Thanks also go to Ken Philips of Help the Homeless, Rachel Bell of Green Living, the Community Response Hub in Bengal Street, and everyone at St Laurence's for their support, she adds.

"It's amazing how everyone is pulling together. I've been quite blown away by it," Andrea said.

To make a donation, please message the team on the Watch Us Grow Facebook page. Alternatively, contact St Laurence's Church on 01257 231360 or the Rev. Mo Baldwin on [email protected]