Financial boost for Preston food bank and community hub

The Preston community has worked together during the pandemic to support those who need it and has secured new funding.

By Jessica Hubbard
Monday, 29th March 2021, 7:00 am

Preston Community Hub, on Samuel Street, has provided support and a food bank throughout the pandemic and has worked closely with schools, community centres and local organisations.

Now the hub has secured funding from ‘Big Local FAM’ (part of Big Local Trusts) so it can continue its work.

Taz Ali, who helps to run the Hub, said: “This support allows us to continue to provide key services to the most vulnerable in our communities.”

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Taz Ali at the Preston Community Hub, photo: Neil Cross

“The funds will be used to provide food items and provisions during the next 13 weeks until life goes back to some form of normality.”

“I would like to thank Big Local Fam on behalf of the consortium for providing the funds and support that allows us to continue to provide essential services in times of need.”

Taz said that the past year has been an equally ‘challenging and emotional time’ for families, those who live alone and people who have endured hardship.

He gave special thanks to Masjid-E-Aqsa mosque, Fishwick Parade, for allowing them to use its building rent-free for two years.

Volunteers at the Hub, photo: Neil Cross

The Preston Community Hub is ‘welcoming and non-judgemental’ to anyone who needs it.

The Hub also provides a weekly recipe kit for service users, allowing them to cook homemade meals together as a family.

Peter Dilworth, chairman of Big Local FAM, said: “Preston Community Hub has carried out some tremendous work during the last year.

“The Hub's work to provide food for those in need in this area has gone from strength to strength.

Volunteer Clair Foster at the Preston Community Hub, photo: Neil Cross

“Not only has the short-term response been brilliant, but the Hub is working on longer-term needs and ambitions, and has a team which is able to give so much to this community.”

Local schools have worked in partnership with the Hub and have expressed how essential and appreciated its work has been.

Catherine Monaghan, headteacher at St Joseph’s RC Primary School, said: “The funding will be utilised to sustain our foodbank and support our families in education around food, healthy options and home cooking.

“We are also creating a school cookery book for home cooking with simple ingredients to help make delicious family food at home.

Philip Matthew at the Hub, photo: Neil Cross

“We believe this will support families working together to cook healthy food, engaging with a family activity that can be repeated themselves as well as giving the children essential life skills.”

The head says that a small amount of the funding will be used to buy Easter eggs which is a ‘rare treat’ for some families.

Fishwick Primary School said it was ‘delighted’ to work together with the Hub. “Fishwick are delighted to work within the consortium to support our school community in tackling food poverty,” a spokesperson said.

“Working collaboratively with Preston Community Hub has enabled us to share expertise, and continue to support families during school closures ensuring that surplus food supplies continue to reach those most in need.”

Leader of Lancashire County Council, Jennifer Mein, said: “The Consortium has provided much valued assistance since its small beginnings at the arrival of the COVID restrictions.

“Now it supports many, many families within the St Matthews and Fishwick ward through the food bank and market.”

Sam Rockford at the Hub, photo: Neil Cross
Clair Foster, photo: Neil Cross
George Reeves at the Preston Community Hub, photo: Neil Cross
Peter Yates, photo: Neil Cross