A LOCAL foodbank joined a hundred other organisations across the country to call for further cost of living support.

On Friday, September 8, volunteers at Atherton and Leigh Foodbank joined 100 foodbanks across the UK in taking action to show support for an ‘Essentials Guarantee’.

During the ongoing cost of living crisis, the project calls for the basic rate of Universal Credit to be increased to cover the cost of essentials that people need such as food, household bills, and travel costs.

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Leigh Journal: Volunteers at the local foodbankVolunteers at the local foodbank (Image: Atherton & Leigh Foodbank)
Foodbank volunteers and Project Manager Warren Done were joined by local councillors outside St John the Baptist’s Parish Church, where they spoke to residents about the campaign.

In the last 12 months, Leigh & Atherton foodbank has provided 3,428 emergency food parcels, helping to feed 7,355 adults and children, with the majority of the people that they support being in receipt of Universal Credit, including many who are also in work.

Volunteers explained that the response from residents to this month's campaign was incredibly supportive, with many taking the time out of their day to stop and talk to the volunteers and sign the petition.

Leigh Journal: Paul Blinkhorn and his son OliverPaul Blinkhorn and his son Oliver (Image: Atherton & Leigh Foodbank)
Paul Blinkhorn, a volunteer at the foodbank, who was part of the campaign said: “The current rate of Universal Credit is simply not providing enough to cover the cost of life’s essentials, and it’s having a hugely detrimental impact on the prospects of far too people living in Atherton.

"The 'Guarantee Our Essentials' campaign was an opportunity to push for a much-needed change, and to inform Atherton’s residents about the real scale of the situation faced by many in our community. 

"It was heartening to see so many of Atherton’s residents sign the petition and rallying around to support their neighbours, and those on low incomes across the country.   

Cllr Lee McStein, who attended the campaign with his Atherton South and Lilford colleagues Debra Wailes and John Harding, added: "The overwhelmingly positive response I witnessed to the Guarantee Our Essentials campaign in Atherton reflects the deep concern for working people who have had it hard for far too long.

"I spoke to a woman who shared that she has no choice but to juggle multiple jobs to cover bills and feed her family, relying on friends for childcare.

"Our government has the capacity to provide greater help to working families, and it's clear from speaking to people that it's way past time for this support."

Leigh Journal: Warren Done with Jo Platt and Paul BlinkhornWarren Done with Jo Platt and Paul Blinkhorn (Image: Atherton & Leigh Foodbank)
Also supporting the campaign on the day was Jo Platt, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Leigh and Atherton, who said: "It was great to be out in Atherton alongside Atherton and Leigh Foodbank.

"It is clear that Universal Credit is not working, with 9 in 10 low-income households going without the essentials, such as food and bills. With the autumn statement coming up, we need the chancellor to do the right thing and help people who are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.

It was good to see how the people of Atherton are right behind the campaign sending a clear message to the government to take action.”