Everton in the Community celebrate their 1st year of running a Your Local Pantry

EITC Blue Base Pantry

Guest Article by Naomi Williams - Originally published on Everton in the Community - Blue Base Pantry Feeds Almost 18,000 People During Cost-Of-Living Crisis (all rights reserved)

The official charity of Everton Football Club delivers a range of life-changing programmes across Liverpool City Region aimed at tackling social issues which are most prevalent on the streets of Merseyside including health, employability, anti-social behaviour, education and poverty. The majority of EitC’s delivery takes place in Liverpool 4 – one of the most socially deprived wards in the UK and a year ago, The Blue Base Pantry was launched to help the local community cope with the aftereffects of the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis.

Delivered in partnership with Fans Supporting Foodbanks, St Andrew’s Community Network, Your Local Pantry and FareShare, the initiative follows on from Everton’s Blue Family Campaign, which supported over 31,000 at-risk individuals with urgent aid during COVID-19. In addition, the Blue Base pantry has continued to help residents cope with the rising cost of living by giving them access to a wide range of top-quality food, from fresh meat to fruit and vegetables, equating to approximately £20 worth of goods, in return for a token fee of just £3.50.  

As well as providing discounted food to members, the charity has teamed up with Riverside Housing, Enterprise Credit Union, Job Centre Plus and Smoke Free Liverpool to offer wrap around services including guidance on benefits, welfare and housing support at the weekly sessions which run every Thursday from 10am to 12pm at The Blue Base on Salop Street. A Citizens Advice Bureau case worker is also on site each week, and the charity’s Employability team are on hand to provide employment advice at a fortnightly job fayre. 

Since its launch in June 2022, the weekly programme has not only fed 17,462 individuals and saved 18,306kgs of food from landfill, but also established itself as the third biggest ‘Your Local Pantry’ in the UK. In just 12 months, the initiative has also taken on 466 active members, had 6,722 visits and supported 275 local families with benefits, housing and money advice. As a result, the pantry has evolved from its initial aim of tackling food insecurity and poverty to become an extensive community hub, enhancing its offering to best serve the needs of the local community.  

The initiative's one-year anniversary was marked this week with a celebration event at Goodison Park where staff members, volunteers, partners and members of the pantry came together to reflect on an impactful first 12 months for the pantry.

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Reflecting on the impact of the community initiative to date, Adam Howard, Senior Programme Manager commented: “We operate in one of the most socially deprived wards in the UK, and the need in this area surrounding Goodison Park has seen us cement our place as the third biggest Your Local Food Pantry in the UK. We have a duty of care to our local community to help them cope with the rising costs of living and we are proud to be able to support so many people in need through our Blue Base Pantry.  

“We have seen the initiative evolve from a weekly food market with the aim of tackling food insecurity and poverty to a multipurpose hub which offers several different services that residents need. The success of the pantry over the last year was made possible thanks to our dedicated volunteers and delivery partners, who have also helped to create a vibrant community atmosphere and a real sense of togetherness at The Blue Base where countless friendships have been built.” 

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Claire Hutchings at FareShare Merseyside and North Wales stated: “We are thrilled to be a part of the Blue Base Pantry initiative. Food insecurity remains a prevalent issue across the UK so we’re proud to have been able to help improve food provision across Liverpool 4 in partnership with EitC. The success of the programme speaks for itself and shows how it is possible to strengthen a community through food, promote engagement and reduce isolation as a result.”

Dave Kelly from Fans Supporting Foodbanks added: “Fans Supporting Foodbanks currently operate six mobile pantries across the Liverpool City Region. In the last calendar year, we have fed 120,000 people. Our partnership with EitC has enabled us to continue the growth of our mobile pantries, and it was important for us to build our relationship with Everton Football Club within the Blue mile. The year ahead will be a demanding one for us, but I am sure we will rise to the challenge.”  

Tracey Crookall from St. Andrews Community Network also said: “We are delighted with the success of the pantry so far, the support that it provides to the local community is crucial and continues to grow week-on-week. We have also really enjoyed working with colleagues from EitC, and it goes without saying that the volunteers are incredible – the team always goes above and beyond to provide a welcoming and supportive environment, ensuring that the pantry runs as smoothly as possible each week.”  

Click here for more information on The Blue Base Pantry.

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