‘Winter is tough... we want to help’: Lancashire church ready to combat cost of living crisis with vital community support
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Amidst swirling financial concerns following the most recent mini-budget, ongoing inflation, and still-astronomical energy prices, St Laurence’s in Chorley town centre is going above and beyond, offering members of the community free haircuts, use of lending library and book swap, a free clothes rail, access to free newspapers, weekly talks from noted community speakers, arts and crafts groups, and a befriending service.
They are also providing people with the chance to have a hot meal, warm drinks, and a friendly face from 11am to 2pm,Tuesday to Friday during what is a hard time for everyone post-pandemic, and potentially-crucial debt advice via their on-site Christians Against Poverty Debt Centre.
“Winter is always a tough time for those on fixed incomes or little cash to spare, and this year it is going to be even more of a challenge as people struggle to make ends meet and pay for the basics,” says Parish Priest Fr Neil Kelley "We hope to provide people with a safe and warm space to spend time in, with volunteers to offer the hand of friendship.
“We hope that by offering food, friendship and a warm environment it will help people struggle a little less than they otherwise might do,” adds Father Kelley. "The Church of England has always held to the proud tradition of being a church for all its parish, not just members of its congregation.
“We hope that all those locally who may be struggling will be able to come along for support and friendship.”
Just one of countless churches across Lancashire offering such vital communal support, St. Laurence’s services are all free and open to absolutely everyone and anyone. Specifically, the specialist debt and financial support service is 100% confidential, with those interested in accessing such support encouraged to book an appointment by calling 0800 328 0006.
Alternatively to calling, people can also take their first step towards dealing with financial issues by attending one of St. Laurence’s drop-in services, which are on a Wednesday between 1 and 2pm.
"Churches stand ready in this crisis,” says Acting Bishop of Blackburn, Rt Rev. Philip North. “We have spaces that we can open up as warm spaces, we run activities that people can come to, and we run a network of food banks and food pantries and so on. There's a great deal we can offer.
"I encourage our parishes and schools to live out Jesus' message of hope and respond with positive action to help their communities at this time, just like St Laurence’s has,” he adds. "We want to help people not to be afraid today. As we meet their needs, as we listen to the plight of those going through crisis, as we do what we can: that's radical contemporary action."