Burnley Together has spent the last three months delivering food parcels, assisting with collecting prescriptions and dog walking, providing mental health support, helping to prevent loneliness and offering debt, housing and financial advice.
Along with the official partners, including Burnley Council, The Calico Group, Burnley FC in the Community, Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale Council for Voluntarily Service, Lancashire County Council and Burnley Leisure Trust, the hub has been supported by charities, faith groups, volunteers and businesses in the local area, providing an inclusive, non-judgemental and community spirited service.
Burnley FC in the Community, Burnley FC’s official charity, has worked closely with Burnley Together to deliver the foodbank service since the start of lockdown in March.
BFCitC staff, along with the help of Burnley FC staff and other volunteers, have been based at the Burnley Community Kitchen. From there, food donations are stored in the warehouse and on a daily basis, staff create food parcels to be delivered to households across the town.
Once social distancing measures were put in place, demand for the service increased to unprecedented levels. The foodbank has now delivered 1,588 parcels since March 23rd, feeding 3,600 people.
Over the past three months, as well as operating the foodbank, BFCitC has also managed food collection points in stores across the area while raising more than £20,000 in donations to support the initiative.
Burnley Leisure Trust is another one of the Burnley Together founding partners. Since March, they have travelled 2,500 miles delivering to residents as well as supporting various local foodbanks in delivering and collecting supplies. These have included Ghosia Foodbank, CVS Foodbank, Gannow Community Centre Foodbank and Community Kitchen Foodbank.
They have also packed more than 3,000 food parcels and hampers for local authorities, care sector and key workers during the pandemic, and all three Burnley Leisure vans have been used for deliveries with 15 volunteers working five days a week to make this all possible.
These volunteers have come from all parts of their business, including Burnley Mechanics, St Peter's Centre, Padiham Leisure Centre, Towneley Golf Club, Sports Development, Prairie Sports Village and Active Streets.
Mental and physical health has been more important than ever recently, so the team has focused on ensuring they can assist people in keeping active and well.
To date, they have hosted more than 60 live fitness classes and shared 250 workout videos, with 24 videos a week being produced on average. Alongside this, they have shared and created various recipes, blogs, quizzes and puzzles and have provided an information hub for all local community needs.
Since the start of lockdown, Burnley Pendle & Rossendale Council for Voluntary Service has received more than 1,200 referrals from Burnley Together and with a number of people requiring more than one form of support.
BPRCVS has handled almost 800 food support requests for which they have either provided food parcels, helped to order from local stores, used volunteers to collect and deliver, allocated volunteers to go shopping at supermarkets, or referred into foodbanks, including Gannow Food Share programme at Gannow Community Centre.
Gannow Community Centre has been busy serving anyone in need throughout Burnley with free emergency food parcels. At its peak, the centre was helping more than 300 families and individuals.
Burnley Together volunteers have also collected and delivered nearly 250 prescriptions; dealt with more than 140 befriending and complex needs referrals where people were feeling isolated and lonely, walked 16 dogs, and supported over 100 requests for help with hospital transport, gardening, and broken household goods and appliances.
A spokesman for Burnley Together said: "The response from the people of Burnley to answer the call for volunteers to join the response team was fantastic, with 550 applications received and 128 volunteers joining the response team.
"Without the support of volunteers the community hub would simply not be able to support those who need it, the community has rallied in the wake of this pandemic and by coming together, they have saved lives and helped so many.
"Lockdown is gradually easing and we are past the initial peak, but that doesn’t mean that the need for support is over. The longer-term impact of the outbreak is only just beginning to surface, with issues such as people losing income whilst on furlough, job losses and school closures causing further hardship for many people and families across all sections of the community.
"Burnley Together understands that people still need help and will continue to provide this ongoing support and service for those in our community who need it the most, seven days a week."