More than two years ago, emergency COVID measures were first introduced in the UK. That same week, several key organisations in Burnley, including Burnley Borough Council, The Calico Group, Lancashire County Council, CVS, Burnley FC in the Community and Burnley Leisure, worked in partnership to create the community hub Burnley Together, assisting vulnerable local people during the height of the pandemic.
With many vulnerable people shielding and unable to leave their homes during 2020 and early 2021, Burnley Together was there to collect and deliver prescriptions; offer support with dog walking; debt advice; mental health support; befriending services and everything in-between. Volunteers and staff members worked tirelessly around the clock during the early days of the COVID crisis.
Burnley Together was created as a temporary service, however as the months passed, it soon became apparent that this type of offer was vital to supporting the town on a longer-term basis with the detrimental impact COVID has had on people’s personal finances, employment situation, and physical and mental health.
Since its launch in March 2020, Burnley Together has provided 14,559 food parcels; had 1503 requests for the befriending service; supported 473 individuals with financial advice and collected 330 prescriptions for people.
One customer said, “I got the support and help I needed. You saved my life actually. That food parcel meant the world to me and son. I was amazed and so grateful for it. I can’t thank you all enough. You do a top job with people who are struggling. Came to the rescue. Honestly brilliant and you super stars, all of you.”
Two years later, the need for the service is just as important with services and signposting forever changing and evolving to the needs of the town. Burnley Together is receiving many requests for a variety of services including support around housing, financial advice, mental health, helping people into training and employment, sourcing furniture and white goods, and befriending services.
It’s now time to start looking toward the future. Through the power of partnership working, which has been consistently growing and evolving, Burnley Together are able to offer a wider, more diverse service using this collective resource and expertise.
They’re also slowly reducing the food parcel service, which was initially created as a temporary provision during lockdown, to offer a more empowering option as demand falls for the emergency parcels.
Burnley Together is working with a new community grocer scheme created by Life Church Lancashire and The Message. This was launched this week and is located at Valley Street Community Centre, Burnley, allowing members to purchase a food shop for £4. Calico Homes has purchased 500 memberships to the scheme to support customers who may be facing financial difficulty.
A generous donation of slow cookers and food vouchers by DEPHER to families identified through schools and Burnley Together, has benefited those attending a cookery programme led by Burnley Leisure and Culture and Burnley FC in the Community.
Burnley Together and The Female Health and Hygiene Project are also looking to increase awareness in the town around period poverty whilst providing practical supplies. This ensures periods can be managed with dignity and confidence for those who may have otherwise gone without due to financial constraints.
In partnership with Burnley Pendle Rossendale Council for Volunteer Service (BPRCVS), Burnley Together is looking to pioneer a new ‘Read Easy’ group in the area. This will provide free, confidential, 1-1 reading coaching for adults. This is delivered by trained volunteers through locally-run, volunteer-led groups.
Burnley Borough Council has been successful in its bid to secure additional funding to support local individuals and families with the rising cost of energy. In partnership with Burnley Together, families and individuals were identified to receive the energy vouchers.
Lukman Patel, Chief Operating Officer at Burnley Council, said: “Burnley Together has proved the power of partnership. It brought people and organisations together to provide help and support that was invaluable.”
“The last two years have been extremely challenging but they have also illustrated the ongoing need for organisations to work together to meet new challenges and to find new ways of helping our communities and our most vulnerable residents.”
Phil Jones, Director of New Services at The Calico Group, said: “It’s vitally important that we continue to be able to offer this service in our town. I look forward to seeing how Burnley Together continues to strengthen via partnership working and adapts to meet the needs of those who need it during the current climate.”