The first food parcels have been distributed today to people who contacted the Council’s new BwD Help Hub for support.
The Help Hub launched last week to give a lifeline to Blackburn with Darwen residents who have no support networks around them to help them access food and household essentials while they are in isolation during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Since it launched, the Help Hub has received over 500 requests for help from people in need.
And today around 250 food parcels have been delivered.
The parcels, which contain enough food and drink for one week, are being packed and dispatched from a new food warehouse and distribution centre set up by Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council in response to the current coronavirus pandemic.
They are being delivered by Council staff, as well as drivers from Travel Assist and Dial-A-Ride. Some local taxi drivers are lending their support too.
Councillor Mohammed Khan, Council Leader, said:
“We have a duty to support our most vulnerable residents during this very difficult time. Food parcels are being provided to people who cannot get out to buy their own supplies and have no friends, family or neighbours they can ask to help them.
“Setting up the food warehouse, a stock control system, a production line for packing food parcels and a transport system is a huge undertaking – but Council staff have managed to do all this in less than two weeks. Different teams across the Council have been working collaboratively, with many people taking on new roles completely different to their normal jobs.
“Everyone involved is using their skills for the benefit of people living in Blackburn with Darwen. It makes me very proud to see what they have achieved in a short space of time.
“A big thank you must go to Euro Garages for helping us secure warehousing facilities and to engage some of their supply chain partners including Sainsbury’s and Barnfield Construction, who have provided fencing at the site. Having an effective logistics and supply platform is critical for a project of this nature, and it is very pleasing to see the private sector supporting the Council on the Help Hub.”
The team co-ordinating requests that come in through the BwD Help Hub is also made up of staff from different Council departments, working together with local partners including Age UK, Care Network and BwD Healthy Living.
Not everyone who contacts the Help Hub needs food. Some are concerned about getting their regular medication, or are concerned about running out of gas and electricity, and paying their bills.
Requests have been received from people across all age groups, with the majority from the over 50s.
Sayyed Osman, Director of Adults & Prevention at Blackburn with Darwen Council, said:
“We are supporting people in a range of ways, signposting them to the local organisation best placed to support them.
“The feedback so far has been fantastic. One woman commented on the relief she felt at just knowing that someone was there to support her.
“I would like to thank staff at the Council, partner organisations, those in the voluntary, faith and community sector and the volunteers. This has been a very significant operation to set up in no time at all. People have worked around the clock to ensure the most vulnerable people get the support they need. The Council is very grateful and proud of this team effort.”
Anyone who needs support and has no one else they can call on can contact the BwD Help Hub:
- Fill in the online form at blackburn.gov.uk
- Call 01254 588111 – calls are taken 9am-5pm Mon to Fri, and 9am-12pm Sat & Sun
The Council has updated information on its website about support for residents during the Coronavirus pandemic. The website contains listings of some local organisations who can provide support. Visit www.blackburn.gov.uk for details.
The photograph shows Council staff working together to provide food parcels to people in the greatest need in Blackburn with Darwen from the new food warehouse and distribution centre.