Group expands cost of living support with help of grant

Radcliffe Food Club has been able to increase its cost-of-living support thanks to a cost-of-living grant from Bury Council and Bury Voluntary, Community and Faith Alliance (VCFA).

The charity, based at Bridge Community Church in the town, applied and received £1960 from the Cost of Living Community Fund to extend their services to include a permanent clothes shop, to help with heating costs and to provide other support.

It is open for residents of Radcliffe every Wednesday with a free community café offering hot drinks and breakfast, a food club in the morning and evening, clothes shop and IT group for anyone who needs help filling forms or going online.

Advice from partners such as Six Town Housing, the council’s Adult Learning service and Wellness teams, and Citizens Advice is also available for residents of the town.

The food club runs as a membership scheme with people paying £5 per year and £3 for a weekly shop of 12 items.

The clothes shop provides news clothes donated by local supermarkets and others for £1 or £2.

Paul Wright who runs the food club said: “We only started a year ago and we already have 300 members. Not everybody needs to come every week and people do move on as their circumstances change.

“Members feel they have a stake in the club and being able to pay a minimal amount gives them some dignity – they want to be able to pay their way but are finding circumstances tough.

“Anyone can find themselves in this situation, and it doesn’t take much for someone to lose their home or job to find themselves facing hard times.

“Even if someone comes to us and says they have no money we will never turn them away. But we will also provide them with support and advice to improve their circumstances.

“The food club looks like a shop and we have helpers on hand to guide people about what is best to buy.

“We rely heavily on volunteers and donations from local businesses and national retailers for our food and clothes. That is our biggest challenge, getting enough food. We scour the supermarkets for the good deals and we’re grateful to the Co-Op for who donate their best before offers.

“A big thank you also goes to the community champion at Asda for their donations of new clothes and to Morrisons who have recently given us school uniforms, and we’ve also received a donation of toys for members to buy as gifts.

“The grant enables us to expand what we can offer.”

Councillor Richard Gold, Cabinet Member for Communities and Finance added: “The food club and church provide such a valuable service for the residents of Radcliffe.

“They are among many community and other groups across the borough providing a wide range of immediate help with the cost of living.

“Out Cost of Living fund, using money from the government’s Household Support Fund, has provided more than £140,000 this year to these groups.

“But in 2023 it is tragic that such support is needed. Our Cost of Living Anti-Poverty Strategy is working not only to provide that emergency help but also to look at and tackle the longer term causes that put people at risk of difficulties.

“This includes looking at why and how people get into debt, improving work opportunities and skills, access to quality and healthy food, and energy efficiency. All these and other issues play a big role in meaning residents need help and are not able to get out of the difficulties they are in.”

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