Donations to Burnley charity reach almost £55,000 in three days after it features in national spotlight

Donations to a Burnley charity, that touched the hearts of people across the nation,when it featured in a television documentary, have risen to almost £55,000 in a matter of days.

By Susan Plunkett
Friday, 4th December 2020, 2:21 pm
Updated Friday, 4th December 2020, 2:22 pm

The total raised for Church on the Street Ministry now stands at an incredible £54,686.

Donations started to flood in from across the globe after Pastor Mick Fleming, along with Father Alex Frost of St Matthew's Church, featured on the BBC this week to talk about how poverty in Burnley had reached unprecedented levels during lockdown.

The caring duo, who have both been moved to tears at seeing so many families desperately in need, have said th support had left them feeling 'humbled and overwhelmed.'

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Donations to Pastor Mick Fleming's Church on the Street Ministry looks set to reach £55,000.

At the beginning of pandemic, Pastor Fleming spoke to the Burnley Express about how he, along with an army of volunteers, had been delivering more than 100 food parcels a day to vulnerable households.

He told us he was being met on doorsteps by elderly people in floods of tears, and by hundreds of young families desperately ripping open care parcels.

It is poverty epidemic that he believes has now been exacerbated by recent events.

He said: "It's certainly got worse since then. We're seeing different problems now. A lot more mental health problems, suicides, the relapses, the use of opiates.

"Many of my friends have died. It's just horrendous, absolutely horrendous. Access to mental health services are really, really bad; access to drug and health services, horrendous. People are living on the streets again. It's awful."

And it is the poorest communities that are being hit hardest during the pandemic.

BBC analysis shows the death rate from all causes between April and June this year in the most deprived areas was nearly double that of deaths in the least deprived parts of the country.

Pastor Fleming said it was partly down to Covid-19, in respect of how lockdown had affected large swathes of the population, but the issue is more systemic.

"There are so many people with underlying mental health conditions," he said. "We have people who are disabled with no food. They haven't got the capacity to do the things that need to be done. And there's nobody there to help them with these issues.

"This has been a problem for years, but the numbers of people struggling, and the help that is required, that's going up. Lockdown has definitely made it worse."

From the age of 11, Pastor Fleming battled drug and alcohol addiction, and experienced homelessness himself before what he calls a 'religious experience' seven years ago gave his life new meaning.

He boasts a theological degree from Manchester University and in March 2019 was ordained.

Shortly before his ordination, he started up the Church on the Street ministry in response to the rise of rough sleepers in the town.

The ministry meet outside McDonalds in the town centre every Tuesday and Friday, from 1pm until 2-30pm, where they hand out food and drink to Burnley's impoverished along with help and advice.

They also hand out food on Wednesday and Thursday evenings from the old Thompson Centre car park.

Anyone who would like to make a donation can do so by clicking HEREDrop-off points for food can be found at St Matthew's Church, Harriet Street, Burnley, and at Mount Zion Church in Cliviger. Check Facebook for up-to-date opening times.