This Volunteer’s Week, we’re appealing for help to extend the opening hours of our food bank to help tackle the cost of living crisis.
Up to 300 people currently receive tinned goods, toiletries and food available from the fridges and freezers at Lucie’s Pantry at Emmaus Bolton, but over the last month the charity has seen a sharp rise in the number of enquiries.
Emmaus Bolton provides meaningful work and training opportunities, support and a home for up to 22 people with experience of homelessness. The charity runs many other social enterprises, including a secondhand and new goods store, a scrap store of recycled art and craft supplies, a recycling centre, furniture-making and upcycling services, and a café.
Pictured: Lucie’s Pantry volunteer Michelle enjoys helping out, organising stock and having conversations with people using the service.
Director of Emmaus Bolton, Tony Stephenson, said: “Lucie’s Pantry used to operate as a social supermarket, but we decided to stop the small charge for food at the start of the Coronavirus pandemic to help support local families in need.
“It is astonishing now national lockdowns have come to an end, that we’re seeing an increase in families accessing our food bank for some of life’s basic essentials. We need donations – and people who can spare a few hours to come and help out.”
The Pantry is staffed by two volunteers all day Wednesday and on Thursday morning, but Emmaus Bolton needs more to extend these opening hours to Tuesday and Thursday afternoons.
Sunday (pictured) has been volunteering for Lucie’s Pantry for four years, after first visiting Emmaus Bolton in 2012 and becoming a regular customer of all the stores.
He said: “People have been coming in every week asking how to join to get access to food. This is at a time when we’ve seen a decrease in donations to the Pantry. People are desperate.
“The store room upstairs from the Pantry used to be full and now it’s empty. I get very emotional now when people and organisations, like schools, can donate. Lucie’s Pantry is a lifeline for so many people.”