Food Share Programme Feeds Hundreds

Feeding people in Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale throughout lockdowns

The food share programme has developed beyond our expectations mainly through Covid-19. In its first 6 months we were supporting up to 40 families and individuals. When lockdown was eased in August this figure had reached a total around 500.

Many of those we supported were people who had been made unemployed or furloughed and waiting for benefits to be sorted.

The food share used to operate for just two hours twice a week; currently it is in operation between 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. 5 days a week. The food share programme has expanded to now include items such as feminine hygiene products, nappies, toilet rolls, deodorant, toothpaste and shower gels.

During the school summer holidays we joined up with other centres under the banner “Burnley Together” to distribute holiday hunger hampers to local families with children. We have many partners and individuals that donate and when we appeal for help when we run out of bags, local residents respond immediately and often ask what donations and we receive clothes, toys, books & games etc.

We are now part of the Emergency Assistance Grant Scheme.

Since the beginning of the first lockdown in March up to the end of October 2020 we have provided:

March

  • Food bags in total = 58
  • Burnley = 44
  • Pendle = 7
  • Rossendale = 7

April

  • Food bags in total = 241
  • Burnley = 171
  • Pendle = 53
  • Rossendale = 17

May

  • Food bags in total = 129
  • Burnley = 101
  • Pendle = 22
  • Rossendale = 6

June

  • Food bags in total = 98
  • Burnley = 67
  • Pendle = 26
  • Rossendale = 5

July

  • Food bags in total = 94
  • Burnley = 77
  • Pendle = 12
  • Rossendale = 5

August

  • Food bags in total = 117
  • Burnley = 107
  • Pendle = 5
  • Rossendale = 5

September

  • Food bags in total = 82
  • Burnley = 74
  • Pendle = 8
  • Rossendale =0

October

  • Food bags in total = 52
  • Burnley = 35
  • Pendle = 17
  • Rossendale = 0

Alan Barnes, Gannow Community Centre Coordinator dropping off new supplies at the centre

Here is a case study from our apprentice worker based at Gannow Community Centre, Alex Martindale, on her experiences of dealing with the food share programme, in particular during the Coronavirus response.

"During the first lockdown everything was chaotic and it was a challenge to deal with the demand that was placed on our food share. We were making up over 70 bags a week which were either collected or delivered, this could be quite overwhelming at times and placed a lot of pressure on the staff at Gannow Community Centre.

"When a member of staff fell ill the responsibility for the food share was given to me and I had to take control instantly. I remember feeling so worried and apprehensive as to whether I could not only keep up with demand but also take on full responsibility as I had never had full control over a project like this before.

"I worked alongside my line manager and in a matter of weeks we managed to get 10 volunteers to help out in the food share. We had volunteers collecting the supermarket donations, volunteers sorting out and putting away the donations and we also had volunteers making food bags that we would then give out.

 

Food bags loaded into Alex's car ready for delivery during the first lockdown

"We also delivered parcels to people who were self-isolating. I delivered them myself after I had finished work for the day. I was delivering up to 5 bags per day all around Burnley and Pendle. I started to feel drained during this period and that’s when the effects of lockdown really hit me I was exhausted all the time working long and hard and had no real way of winding down. I spoke to my line manager and we both decided the best thing for me to do was stop delivering and start asking people to collect the parcels if they were able.  We also put in place some lovely volunteers who were willing to deliver in an afternoon.

"I spoke to family members and my line manager quite openly about how I was feeling because I felt like it was better to have it out in the open rather than bottling up how lockdown was affecting me. I was certainly not alone and having these people who I could talk to helped massively.

"I felt like I had no other choice but to jump in at the deep end and thankfully that worked out in my favor. As lockdown 2.0 has started now I feel so much more calm and ready for the demand for food parcels to increase.

"The first lockdown taught me a lot not only in my work life but also in my personal life. It’s taught me that no matter how you are feeling it’s better to talk about it and get everything off your chest because so many other people are going through the exact same thing and may be able to help you. I’m so grateful for all the little things in life and can’t wait for things to get back to normal so I can start living my life to the full again."

Alex Martindale and Jason Collinge sorting stock of food supplies in the centre