Curry on the Street: Barnoldswick man who founded Burnley and Pendle poverty charity appealing for more donations amid cost of living crisis

He is a recovering alcoholic who started a charity helping vulnerable people after battling his demons.
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James Foy, of Barnoldswick, launched Curry on the Street four years ago after receiving help to beat his addiction. The charity helps feed hundreds of people in need a week and signposts them to professional mental health and substance abuse support.

The 59-year-old is now seeking more donations as demand for support increases due to the cost of living crisis.

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James said: “I was an absolute alcoholic, but I had help to get off the alcohol, so I want to give back to the community.”

Founder James Foy and manager Sharon Martin of Curry on the Street.Founder James Foy and manager Sharon Martin of Curry on the Street.
Founder James Foy and manager Sharon Martin of Curry on the Street.

The charity, which has scooped a Pride of Nelson Award, has seen the demand for food grow from 12 curries a week to 300 over the past four years.

“The need has grown by a lot. It’s a bit distressing when you first see it. Our team is busy, and people are struggling.

"The charity grew steadily at first, but now we see more new faces. Some people [who need help] are working. Others are sleeping in garages or car parks. I know where they all stop. We go out at night sometimes when the weather is bad to check they have enough warm items.

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"One or two have passed away on us. We try to keep a brave face on, but the situation is so sad. It’s unbelievable. It opens your eyes and makes you feel all sorts [of emotions]. It’s just a nightmare but we know we’re helping a little.

"Everyone who comes along has their own story. All the volunteers are trained not to judge but to listen. People who are struggling feel that someone is there to care about them, [which makes] life a bit better.”

The team, who receive referrals from the NHS and housing associations, hand out warm clothing, bedding, and bags of essential food items.

"It’s not all about the food. It’s about keeping people well. We are trying to get people out of the house and into the community, so we can start working with them. [When you have an addiction], you hide behind closed doors. You’re on your own, and you want to drink. I went through it myself with drinking for a long time. We have people in the community with their blinds shut all day. They probably only go out to get drugs or go to the off-licence.”

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Talking about the charity’s impact, he added: "We’ve had some good results: people moving houses and getting jobs. We have people working for us who have been in the queue [for food and support]."

The volunteers range in background and age from eight to 89-years-old.

"We have young children coming with their families and giving things to vulnerable people. The kids love helping people. It’s so sweet.”

Free food and support are available: Wednesdays, 5-30pm, St John’s Church, Albert Road, Colne; Thursdays, 6pm, outside Pendle Rise entrance, Nelson; and Sundays, 6pm, Bank Croft House, Burnley.

If you would like to arrange a donation, please search for Curry on the Street on Facebook.