Chorley foodbank users up by almost a quarter

Carol Halton and Helen Schilz at the Store House food bank, based at Living Waters Church, Chorley.
Carol Halton and Helen Schilz at the Store House food bank, based at Living Waters Church, Chorley.
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Chorley’s foodbank is under increasing pressure after it was revealed this week that its demand is up 23 per cent over the year

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Volunteer Jean Barden at the Store House food bank, based at Living Waters Church, Chorley.

Volunteer Jean Barden at the Store House food bank, based at Living Waters Church, Chorley.

Organisers at the vital facility at the LW Storehouse at Living Waters Church, Bolton Street, are seeing more and more desperate users come through the door.

Total referrals for 2018 were 1,356.

Already this year, the figure stands at 1,441.

Project co-ordinator Carol Halton said: “Someone commented dropping off into the foodbank last week, they didn’t think a time would come when there was no foodbank now.”

Volunteers at the Store House food bank, based at Living Waters Church, Chorley.

Volunteers at the Store House food bank, based at Living Waters Church, Chorley.

Adding to that worrying comment, she found it difficult to disagree and added: “That wasn’t our goal.

“Not being negative, we would like to be able to shut down - that’s the goal.”

The month by month increase this year is as follows:

January+43 per cent; February+26; March+37; April+31; May+69; June-9; July-15; August+4; September+36; October+27.

On a happier note, though, the near £30,000 donations from the local community following the Project Feed Chorley campaign launched by the Chorley Guardian a year ago has made a real difference.

It funded a new warehouse so that volunteers at the food bank could stop working in cramped and damp conditions in the cellar of the church.

“It’s made a massive difference,” said Carol.

The money was raised in just six weeks.

“I can’t begin to describe the difference it’s made to our working environment, to have light and fresh air flowing into bright warm surroundings is truly a blessing from God and a miracle,” said Carol.

She added; “We are happy that Marks & Spencers in Chorley have decided to donate all their surplus food to us, we are so grateful and excited to give our clients such lovely food.

“KFC have also come on board this year with large amounts of chicken given twice weekly - the people’s faces light up when we offer it out.

“A massive thank you as well to Morrisons, Asda in Chorley and Clayton, Tesco Buckshaw and Bowens Pies for your weekly donations and being so willing to have trolleys in store for people to donate.”

Meanwhile, a Fun run by Epic Events is taking place again in Astley Park on December 29.

Called Festive 4, it is a four mile run, with a smaller 1k for children.

Carol commented: “Last year we saw hundreds sign up and are hoping for the same. The cost is £12 to enter and free for the kids one.

“Entry is on www.sientries.co.uk or Facebook.

“It’s a great atmosphere and a chance to work off the Christmas calories.

“We offer everyone who comes into the food bank a meal from our cafe which is also open to the public every Tuesday and Friday between 10am to 2pm.”

Meanwhile, the food bank has launched a ‘pay it forward’ appeal to raise funds for its expensive cafe food bill each week.

The figure is rising and approaching almost £350 to £400 per month.

“We offer everyone a free meal and most people accept as they come in hungry,” said Carol.

“We thought if people could donate £3 to £4 to buy someone a meal or set up a standing order it would help us a lot.

“We used to get £5,000 per year from Lancashire County Council but due to budget cuts lost it.”