Lucie’s Pantry used to be a social supermarket and started operating as a food bank at the start of Covid to help people in need. You still have to fill in an application form to join, and you can ask for one of these at the Drill Hall shop.
We stock rice, cans, pasta, tins, frozen food, refrigerated food and toiletries, like soap, shampoo and toilet roll. While we don’t ask for donations of fresh food, we do have fruit and vegetables here, and I suggest recipes. Some people don’t know how to or don’t have the time to cook, but we try to encourage a balanced diet by giving out ideas for free.
Deliveries come on Tuesday, from places like FareShare and schools have given bags of donations. On Tuesday we come in, sort the goods out, then we stock the shelves, fridges and freezers properly and make sure everything is tidy, so it looks nice, and we check the expiry date on everything.
Since Covid, we have been seeing fewer and fewer donations. Donations have decreased because people don’t have a lot of themselves. That’s a giant part of running Lucie’s Pantry, making sure it’s fully stocked.
Not long ago we had a lady come in to drop off a lot of things. When she became successful, she said she would donate food to help other people and she gave £100 worth! There have been other kind stories, there was a couple who got married and, for their wedding present, they decided not to ask for things for themselves and instead asked for donations. That resulted in £500 worth of food!
I’m full of emotion when there are stories like that; when people think of spending money on others before themselves and people respond to Emmaus Bolton appeals. That for me, is very, very good. There are some very thoughtful people out there.
People come in and I tick their name off, and record the food received, whether it was chilled food, the fridge temperature and any payment (before it was a food bank) alongside the initials of the volunteer serving them.
The cost-of-living situation is compounded for some people. People are short of money. Every week now people have been coming to ask about joining. In some circumstances people have been made redundant or have been referred here because their circumstances have changed. Some people have had a death in the family and they’re here as well as their grandchildren; people with jobs.
It’s been very difficult, if you don’t work and if you don’t earn a lot of money and work. Nurses who work in hospitals have been coming here, young people, older people; some people come with their support workers because they are disabled.
Because of Covid, sometimes people who are registered with us didn’t come. Some are very, very poor people. There have been mothers and daughters coming here, joining Lucie’s Pantry together. I used to be full of emotion every time I see people like this here. Whatever is going on at home they can tell me. I say are you okay so I can get help for you. If this is what people rely on, we always try to help.
I used to teach at secondary school and primary special needs, but then I had a medical problem, which stopped me from teaching. I have been coming to Emmaus Bolton for 10 years. I dropped by to say hello once or twice a week and someone said, since you come here, how about volunteering? I thought that would be wonderful. I have always done volunteering work for youth centres and youth clubs.
I’m very thankful of Emmaus. The thing I like about Emmaus Bolton, is that we see here what is going on with people and incorporate those things into the charity. When people come to buy things here, they’re giving back to the place. It’s about reaching out to people in need. Please bring in what you can! I feel thankful people are not selfish and think ‘wow, how can that be’ when we receive donations. It is shocking people to need this in Bolton. People are desperate. Lucie’s Pantry is a lifeline for people.
I like volunteering, it’s what I give back to society. I enjoy it. I’d like to thank people for their donations. Even though people themselves are struggling.
To donate food or toiletries to Lucie’s Pantry, please call 01204 398056 or to volunteer email [email protected]. More information about the Lucie’s Pantry Food Assistant role is available on our volunteer page.