Helping people access food in rural areas

18 December 2020

A number of organisations are coming together once again this winter to help people in Frodsham and nearby areas access food.

The Welcome Network is commissioned by Cheshire West and Chester Council and hosted by Healthbox CIC. It has been on a mission to provide food to those who need it since 2017, creating spaces for local people and agencies to come together, building networks, strengthening relationships with the community and helping share good food.

Over the last couple of years, the Welcome Network has worked with a number of different partners in Frodsham in the lead up to Christmas, providing food boxes and activity packs for local families. Partners involved include the Rural Localities team at the Council, Healthbox, Brio Leisure, Frodsham Youth Service, children centres, schools, faith groups and housing trusts. 

Given COVID-19 has brought many challenges and more people are likely to need access to food this winter, a coordinated approach through the Welcome Network has never been more important. 

Somebody who has been supported in Frodsham said: “My partner and I lost our jobs this year. I was embarrassed of asking for charity, but this wasn’t like that. It was fun and kept our cupboard full with food and recipes we hadn’t tried before.”

Simon Sandford, Director of Healthbox CIC, said: “The Welcome Network, partners in Frodsham and supporting organisations have been important to make sure people are able to access the food they need during the winter. 

“With the COVID-19 pandemic, many more partners have been working together and it’s fantastic to have a platform like the Welcome Network helping coordinate services across Cheshire West and Chester. 

“The Welcome Network, hosted by Healthbox CIC and supported by Cheshire West Voluntary Action, has a longer-term strategy for the borough and we need to be thinking beyond this Christmas to help reduce the number of residents going hungry.”

Councillor Louise Gittins, Leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council, added: “It’s fantastic to see so many partners working together on this agenda in Frodsham and other areas of the borough. 

“We've declared a Poverty Emergency and, while this is about Christmas provision, we’re also working towards the longer-term aim of reducing poverty in Cheshire West and Chester.

“I’d encourage everyone who needs food support this winter to look at the Welcome Network’s resources as there are so many services out there to help you.”

The Welcome Network has set up an online form so community groups and businesses can highlight their plans for distributing food over the festive period.  This is helping the Welcome Network map out the different services on offer across the borough. The Council also has a dedicated helpline in place for groups vulnerable to COVID-19 that need support, operating from 8am until 7pm on Monday to Friday and 9am until 12.30pm on a Saturday. Call: 0300 123 7031. 

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