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INTERVIEW: Foodbank in Lancaster launches Christmas appeal

Leslie Mann, manager of The Olive Branch foodbank in Lancaster

A foodbank in Lancaster needs your help to bring a little Christmas joy to people in need.

The Olive Branch has launched a Christmas appeal for mince pies, chocolate oranges, gifts and other treats to put smiles on faces of families this festive season.

The Christian charity, now based at its new home of Alston House at White Cross, Lancaster, distributes around 300 food parcels a month to people who are struggling 

The team of staff and volunteers will be filling specially-decorated Christmas bags full of goodies to give out with food parcels this December.

"Need rises at this point in the year," said Leslie Mann, manager at The Olive Branch.

"It's getting colder. Heating bills are going up. People want to celebrate Christmas, people have families and kids, they don't want them going back to school saying they didn't really get a Christmas. So parents will spend money on Christmas and then they themselves will go without. So that rises the need. 

"We have a campaign to ask people to donate Christmas food items, Christmas puddings, mince pies, chocolate oranges. Little gifts for children. We put those into nice bags, decorate them up and everybody who gets a food parcel during December gets one of the bags, just to make their Christmas a little bit better."

LISTEN to the full interview with Leslie Mann

The Olive Branch marks its 20th anniversary next year.

It was founded in November 2004, when a group of volunteers from different churches came together to serve a  weekly free meal to those who needed it. This was funded by charitable giving and supported by Lancaster Free Methodist Church (now renamed Hope Church).

From November 2004 to March 2008 over 2,300 free meals were served to approximately 20 to 30 guests each week. 

Recognising that much more was needed, The Olive Branch became a registered charity in September 2006. 

In recent years, The Olive Branch has been based on Westbourne Road in Lancaster but moved to the White Cross earlier this year.

The centre offers daytime support to anyone who is in need, offering a listening ear on issues such as housing, debt, budgeting, addiction, homelessness or mental health, while also signposting people to other charities and organisations where appropriate.

Linda Currin and Barbara Kirby from the Olive Branch team are pictured below

A guest of The Olive Branch said recently: “The Olive Branch has been an incredible resource for my family to access in our time of need, and thanks to the charity's generosity, when I resigned recently from my full-time job due to stress, the Olive Branch helped feed us as a family, and kept us going, whilst I figured out my situation and got back into employment.

"If it wasn't for this service, we would be facing debt, and an already stressful situation would have worsened. Thankfully, due to the food we received, my job change and shortfall had little impact on my family and we were able to keep our spending to a minimum, whilst we resolved our financial situation.

"We are incredibly grateful for the help we received and to the volunteers and staff for being so kind, welcoming and non-judgemental."

For more information on how to donate food to The Olive Branch, become a volunteer, or receive help, see the website here. 

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