MP calls for action from government as demand for crisis packs soars

Bury Times: From left are chairman Julia Rowlands, David Archer, Gill Layton, Geoff Layton, Ivan Lewis, Kathleen Johnson, Les Johnson and charity founder the Rev Carol Hayden. From left are chairman Julia Rowlands, David Archer, Gill Layton, Geoff Layton, Ivan Lewis, Kathleen Johnson, Les Johnson and charity founder the Rev Carol Hayden.

BURY South MP Ivan Lewis spoke of a “cost of living crisis” in the borough after visiting a Radcliffe charity which has reported a rise in demand for its crisis packs.

Porch Boxes last year delivered more boxes of food and toiletries to vulnerable people than ever before.

The charity, with a distribution centre at Bridge Methodist Church, in Milltown Street, sent out more than 1,000 boxes in December alone compared to a monthly average of 228 boxes in 2012.

Earlier this month, Mr Lewis praised the organisation’s work as “absolutely fantastic” after meeting with trustees and volunteers.

He said: “I shudder to think what would happen if Porch Boxes was not around to support the hundreds of people a month who make use of its services.

“The sharp increase in the numbers of people that need help is very worrying.

“I am told more and more people in work are requiring assistance and have to make difficult choices as to whether to feed their families or to pay their rent, or whether to feed themselves or their children.

“These are choices that no one should have to make.”

Porch Boxes was set up in 2001 and provides emergency packs of nonperishable food and toiletries designed to last two days.

The charity takes orders from referral agencies which deliver the packs to needy families and individuals, including vulnerable or abused people in temporary housing or hostel accommodation, people living on the streets or older people living in poverty.

Demand been such that stocks are now running low, with staff having to buy some items before they can fill boxes. Les Johnson, a trustee for Porch Boxes, said: “We are able to serve more people than ever and the evident need is matched by increased giving of both food and money, for which we are thankful. We are pleased to welcome MPs, councillors.”

Mr Lewis: “It is clear the government needs to do more to address the cost of living crisis that is engulfing constituencies like mine, such as driving down the costs of energy prices and childcare, implementing a decent living wage and increasing the supply of affordable housing.”

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