St Paul's Centre in Crewe

A charity at the heart of the South Cheshire community for many years has issued a plea for help as income streams dry up because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Selling recycled furniture and running a café have helped fund charitable activities from St Paul’s Centre in Crewe for more than 30 years.

Now without this cash the charity is facing its own crisis.

Crewe Town Council has helped with a £1000 donation to keep activities going in the short term and a Just Giving page is now active for people to pledge support.

Meanwhile the charity, based on Hightown in a former church, is working flat out with reduced staff to maintain its Paul’s Pantry Foodbank – a main provider for those experiencing food poverty through illness, unemployment or unexpected circumstances.

Over the past two weeks demand has doubled and it’s been all hands on deck to make up food parcels and deliver to those most in need.

Pantry co-ordinator Cheryl Wykes said: “Food is going out as fast as it’s coming in.

“Items that are included in most food parcels around the country are hard to find – long-life items UHT milk, long grain rice, tins of potatoes, veg, fruit and meat pies for example.

“Meanwhile money is needed to keep the building running, to pay the remaining staff wages, to keep the vans on the road and to be able to open up again once this crisis has passed so we can carry on serving local people.”

Over the years the centre has adapted to the needs of South Cheshire.

In the 1990s a recycled school uniform scheme was founded during a surge in teenage pregnancies and young mums needing support.

Newer projects have included a cycle workshop helping unemployed young people learn new skills.

From repairing bikes to dealing with the public, each trainee has been equipped to go on and find full time work.

During the Kosovo war, the centre was a collection point for goods donated by local people to be sent by the lorry load.

When ‘Care in the Community’ came in the centre again adapted with life training and friendship for supported adults.

Cheryl added: “This current crisis has created our own crisis.

“Immediately as measures were announced by the government, we had to suspend all our work with our supported adults’ projects, followed on by closing of the Friday furniture sales and the collection of furniture from homes – one of our main income streams.

“The cycle workshop and community café has also been mothballed.

“We are gratefully to Crewe Town Council for immediately responding and we urge businesses and the community to give what they can either in cash or kind.”

Crewe Mayor Cllr Benn Minshall said: “St Paul’s have always been a real lifeline for Crewe, through their support for local people and the wider community over so many years.

“In these most challenging circumstances, where they are adapting so tremendously to meet current needs – it is now our turn to support St Paul’s.

“I want to personally thank each and every person at St. Paul’s, not just for what they are doing now, but for what they have always done for all of us.

“We know that Crewe can respond when times are hard, we only have to look back to what transpired last summer.

“The council is doing what it can to help, but we don’t have an endless amount of resources, and so we urge local people to do what they can to help St Paul’s.”

To pledge support go to the Just Giving page or call the centre on 01270 586186.

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