It is hoped no one will go hungry in Blackpool again following the launch of a new network that will co-ordinate food banks across the resort.
The partnership aims to strengthen the work that already exists between churches, other faith and voluntary groups and Blackpool Council to get food parcels to those in need.
While the partnership is inspired by Christian faith groups, it is committed to serving the whole of the community and offers support to people of all faiths as well as those without.
In practice, the agreement will see churches and voluntary and religious groups make referrals to the Blackpool Council Discretionary Support Scheme.
People will then be assessed and, if eligible, be given food parcels.
Co-ordinating the groups centrally will also help to ensure that people in crisis will receive the help and support they need, being signposted to helpful services and getting advice to prevent similar emergencies from occurring in the future.
At the launch of the event, Cllr Simon Blackburn, Leader of Blackpool Council, spoke out to express his support for the initiative.
He said: “I’ve not met anyone who enjoys living on benefits or receiving handouts or accessing charity. I have, though, met a great deal of people who are striving towards a day when they will not have to do that. This isn’t about food exclusively; it’s about love and hospitality.”
The Right Reverend Geoff Pearson, the Bishop of Blackburn, who also spoke out to show his support, added: “It’s great to see such a good turnout which shows the commitment of the community to the food partnership.
“We, as religious organisations, hear many stories of deprivation and poverty and we know that 8/10 of the most deprived areas in the UK are in the North West.
Other organisations involved in the partnership include: Together Lancashire, Methodist Action North West, Caritas Care, Esmee Fairbaim and Blackpool Foodbank.
Blackpool is the sixth most impoverished local authority in the country and it is believed more than 9,000 children in the town live below the poverty line.
As a result Blackpool Council provides free breakfast for all primary school pupils.
The benefits of the partnership:
- We can monitor the current need for food parcels
- We can plan ahead to develop services to help people in need
- We can support people to identity and tackle the root causes of food poverty
- We can steer people to use appropriate services in order to maximise resources
How can you help?
- Have a tin or collection point at a fundraising event
- Volunteer at one of the 15 distribution points across Blackpool or as a driver
- Promoting the project within your group or church
- Give a donation at www.methodistaction.co.uk/donate and state it is for the Blackpool Food Partnership
- Canned food
- Dried food
- Long life drink cartons
You can donate at locations throughout the town.
To make an application to Blackpool Council’s Discretionary Support Fund, visitwww.blackpool.gov.uk, visit a Blackpool library and ask a trained member of staff to help you make an application or call the free phone number 0800 694 0100.