Home Business and economy Businesses team up with the council to help feed 2,500 families in Knowsley
Some of the food donated by Home Bargains being stored at the Big Help Foodbank warehouse

Businesses team up with the council to help feed 2,500 families in Knowsley

by Gemma Melling

Families in Knowsley who are suffering hardship as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak will be fed thanks to a partnership between Knowsley Council and retailer Home Bargains.

With Foodbank supplies running low, and the need for food & essentials hugely increased, the council has been desperately trying to identify a supplier to help feed people in need in the borough. But finding a supermarket or wholesaler with enough stock was proving difficult – until Liverpool based Home Bargains stepped in to help.

Within 24 hours they had allocated enough food and other supplies worth £14,500 to support 2,500 families in Knowsley – and agreed to donate it with no charge.

The race was then on to find an available HGV and driver to collect and deliver the items to Knowsley Foodbank – at such short notice this wasn’t easy but logistics company Nagel Langdons, who have a base at Knowsley Business Park in Kirkby, made themselves available – also for no charge.

Food donated to the Knowsley Foodbank by Home Bargains being loaded into the wagon

Food donated to the Knowsley Foodbank by Home Bargains being loaded into the wagon

Back at the Big Help Project foodbank warehouse, council staff have been busy cleaning and clearing space for the delivery and assembling new shelves and storage units, provided by the council. Knowsley Council workers and foodbank volunteers are now packaging up the food and supplies in parcels for each family. It will be distributed from hubs set up across the borough, manned by council staff and community volunteers.

Families who are able to collect the items will be able to do so – with strict social distancing procedures in place. Where families are unable to collect the supplies themselves delivery is being arranged. Drivers with the taxi firm Supreme Cars, who usually provide the council’s home to school transport for children with special educational needs or disabilities, will be helping distribute the parcels alongside other volunteer drivers who have offered their services through the council’s Community Support and Volunteer Line.

In all, it’s a fantastic example of the ‘Knowsley Better Together’ ethos in action – businesses and organisations in Knowsley working together for the collective good of people in the borough.

Cllr Graham Morgan, Leader of Knowsley Council, said: “We all know that it has been a challenge getting items in the shops lately and there have been strict limits on some of the staple items that we’d usually see being donated to foodbanks, such as pasta and tinned items. With the amount of people now in desperate need of food and supplies in the borough rising dramatically due to the coronavirus outbreak, it has been a real challenge to source enough supplies to sufficiently top up the stocks at the Foodbank.

The team at Nagel Langdons who helped deliver the donated food to the Knowsley Foodbank

The team at Nagel Langdons who helped deliver the donated food to the Knowsley Foodbank

“So for Home Bargains to come to the rescue like this – and so quickly and generously – is absolutely incredible. It means we will be able to feed 2,500 families in the coming days.

He added: “We’re so grateful to Home Bargains but also to Nagel Langdons who so kindly collected all the food for us and delivered it to the Foodbank warehouse.

“Now it’ll be our army of council staff and volunteers who’ll be packaging up the items and making sure they get to those who need them – safely and urgently.

“It’ a real community and business effort and I’m so proud of everybody for pulling together. It’s a real testament to the spirit of our Knowsley Better Together approach and really proves that, working together, we can actually change or even save lives.”

But, Cllr Morgan said that more help was still needed.

“The scale of the challenge ahead is still unknown but we expect this situation to continue for at least a few more months. So we will need a constant supply of food and essential supplies to allow us to continue to care for the vulnerable in our borough. We’re appealing to all businesses to see who else can help us achieve this – the need isn’t going away anytime soon.

“I also want to put on record my thanks to all those council staff who have volunteered to be redeployed from their usual roles to get out on the frontline helping distribute food and offering support to people – as well as the 300+ members of the public who’ve called our volunteer line to offer their services. It is testament to the numbers of people wanting to help that we haven’t yet been able to allocate everyone a job yet – but we will do – and we will need even more helpers as the weeks and months go by. So if you think you have something to offer, please call us on 0800 073 0043.”