Burnley Community Grocery: Inside new one-stop support hub offering affordable food in Burnley town centre
Nearly 2,500 households have become members of Burnley Community Grocery over the past year. And the organisation is showing no sign of slowing down after signing up 60 more when it launched its second store in the town on Tuesday.
The new Down Town Community Grocery located in Charter Walk Shopping Centre (above New Look) aims to meet the growing demand for support and help eradicate the stigma of using a foodbank by offering members multiple £4 shops a week for a £5 membership fee.
Daniella Steenbergen, Community Grocery Manager, said: "The first store worked so well that we wanted to recreate it downtown to reach more families and encourage them to come away from food bank dependency.
"We signed up 60 new members on the first day and put 164 shops through the till. It was pretty much a record day.”
Daniella says the scheme's success is "bittersweet" given the number of people struggling with the cost of living.
"I think it's sad that we are here in 2023. Many people now face circumstances out of their control. Lots of working people are struggling who have never struggled before. They work full-time, but their wages can't stretch. You might have one person on long-term sick while their partner works for the NHS and has a great career - but one salary for a whole family doesn't cut it."
The grocery aims to bridge the gap between food banks and supermarket prices, with each £4 shop comprising 12 fresh, frozen, and long-life products, including fruit, vegetables, and baked goods.
"It's set up like a laidback farm shop. It's a nice place to come and gives dignity back to people.
"It also helps combat loneliness. People have referred to it as an old-fashioned greengrocery where you are on a first-name basis. All the volunteers and staff are wonderful.
"It's an amazing space with lots of potential for community activities and it's easily accessible. The training kitchen will be an amazing facility to learn how to cook. It's really exciting."
The hub, which will run in addition to the store in Valley Community Centre, also offers food parcels, second-hand school uniforms, domestic abuse support, and money management courses. And it can make referrals to Citizen's Advice for housing and debt issues.
Despite the bleak circumstances facing the town, Daniella says a strong community has formed around the grocery, adding: “Everyone has pulled together through hard times and so many people want to help their community.”
To find out more, visit communitygrocery.org.uk/burnley
Down Town runs Monday to Friday from 9-30am to 4-30pm in partnership with Calico, Life Church, Burnley Leisure and Culture, The Message Trust, and Burnley Together.