A FOODBANK in Ellesmere Port which started after a group of friends rallied to feed people in need in is going mobile after being donated a van. 

The People’s Pantry began in lockdown, when four woman who live in the area got together to help put hot meals on tables across the area. 

"We just had to do something," explained founder member, Tracey Anelay-Jones, a retired local authority community worker.

“We all just felt that any of us could have been in the same situation, and we knew we could do something to make a difference. So, we started this.” 

Now The People’s Pantry is a registered charity, operating out of Wolverham Community Centre, Westminster Community Centre, and Hope Farm Methodist Church. 

The original four – Tracey, Debbie McCauley, Erica Neill, and Elaine Collins – have added two more central volunteer members, Maria Watton and Kathleen Spain and many more support too.

The charity operates a community food bank, prepares hot meals for around 25 people per session, seven days a week, and provides a wider range of additional support – such as translation services for people who do not speak English as a first language. 

This expansion brought with it a problem of moving all its stock and cooking equipment between the bases – a problem solved after local gas distribution network Cadent donated a van it no longer needed. 

Wirral Globe: The People's PantryThe People's Pantry (Image: Cadent)

Cadent has also officially designated the People’s Pantry as a ‘Centre for Warmth’.

It is providing funding for advisors to be available at the centres, to provide financial and energy advice, as well as offer guidance on healthy, affordable meal preparation, including slow cooker classes.  

Cadent currently has more than 100 such Centres for Warmth, across the country. The gas distributor identifies and partners with established charities in areas with high deprivation and fuel poverty.

The aim is to help keep people safe and warm in their homes, with a particular focus on people who may be living in vulnerable circumstances. 

Tracey said: "The van is going to make an enormous difference for us, and we can’t thank Cadent enough.

"We already had a great relationship with the team at its Hydrogen Experience Centre, who collected food for our food bank and have always been available to support us. 

"Becoming a Cadent ‘Centre for Warmth’ is a fantastic next step and a big milestone for us."

Phil Burrows, Head of Customer Vulnerability Delivery at Cadent, said: "What the People’s Pantry has achieved in just a few short years is incredible.

"We are delighted to have created this partnership, which will help them grow and support even more people in Ellesmere Port."

More information about Centres for Warmth is at www.cadentgas.com/centresforwarmth.