The Leyland foodbank trying to provide extras as well as essentials this winter

A Leyland community group that established itself as a full-scale foodbank during lockdown says that it wants to provide the people it helps not just with something to eat but something to do as a long winter sets in.

By Paul Faulkner
Friday, 30th October 2020, 2:40 pm
Updated Friday, 30th October 2020, 8:04 pm

The doors of the Wade Hall Community Association on Royal Avenue are usually wide open to locals who benefit from the companionship on offer as well as the consumables – but that all changed back in March.

The groups and activities that were hosted at the facility all fell silent as the small band of volunteers became a lifeline for those in need of practical support when the pandemic took hold – handing out food parcels at the door or delivering them to the doorsteps of those vulnerable residents unable to leave home.

“We’d usually have children, the elderly and all kinds of different groups in the centre doing different things,” said the charity’s chair Joan Musker.

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Food bags lined up and ready to go at the Wade Hall Community Association

“We’ve always helped with food, but that became our main focus after lockdown, because so many people were struggling – they were either furloughed or lost their jobs altogether.”

Joan is expecting demand to grow further as the effect of the Tier 3 restrictions begins to be felt and Christmas approaches.

However, the charity is keen to keep sight of the need for the wider support it offers in more normal times – and try to replicate it where it can.

During half term, it has distributed dozens of activity packs to children – along with food bags to their families – and has already launched its Christmas toy appeal, asking locals to “put one more person on your Christmas list”.

“We’ve given out things that children can make and create. They’re going through a lot at the moment – it’s confusing for them and we wanted to provide something to occupy them.

“And we want to make sure that every child gets a gift at Christmas – it’d be so sad to think of any of them going without.”

Meanwhile, those at the other end of the age spectrum have not been forgotten about – and have been receiving added treats in their food parcels, like magazines and puzzle books to brighten what may otherwise be dark and lonely days. They have also been reassured that they are not alone during a time of enforced isolation.

“A lot of the elderly are just happy to see somebody on their doorstep – socially-distanced – who they can talk to.

“We may be the only people they see when we deliver to them – and we let them know that we’re only on the other end of the phone, because you can tell a lot of people just want a chat,” Joan explained.

She said that the expected rise in demand in the coming months means the association is “forever asking” for donations – and paid tribute to the public and businesses of South Ribble, many of whom are struggling themselves, for their generosity so far this year.

Joan believes that the charity’s efforts will both lighten the burden and lift the mood of the locals it helps in the coming months.

However, she is particularly sorry to see one of the organisation’s Christmas traditions claimed by coronavirus – and hopes that the essentials and extras provided to those in need will unite them all in spirit on what is usually a day for gatherings.

“We’d normally open on Christmas afternoon for refreshments – but it was actually more about the company and making sure people weren’t by themselves.

“We’d play games and chat – because it can be a difficult and lonely day for some people, both the elderly and young families.

“It certainly isn’t always the happy time people want it to be.”

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