The Kirkby Lonsdale Community Cupboard began in March 2020 when the country was thrown into its first lockdown for COVID. We began with the Community Hub, through which volunteers offered to collect prescriptions, go shopping, post letters, and do just about anything to help those affected by Covid restrictions. A team of seven volunteers managed the scheme and manned a dedicated phone for people to ring and ask for assistance. In the first year, more than 1,000 tasks had been undertaken by the volunteers.
The Community Cupboard was established soon after in May 2020, as people began to struggle financially because of Covid restrictions. It continues to provide donated/surplus food to residents within a 5-mile radius of Kirkby Lonsdale. It aims to alleviate food poverty and reduce food waste. Food orders are delivered to those requesting assistance. At Christmas, hampers were delivered to families and elderly residents identified as vulnerable by schools, family, friends, or neighbours. Management of The Hub and Community Cupboard was merged in 2021 and these two elements are run by more than 40 volunteers.
The Food Club was launched in the summer of 2020. It is a Fareshare initiative which aims to reduce food waste and food bills. Food is delivered by Fareshare, Preston, and is available to those who can make a token financial contribution towards the cost of buying the food from Fareshare. There are currently 75 members, with over 200 people actually benefiting.
Community Lunches started in January 2021, to combat isolation and support vulnerable people by delivering a hot meal, with a friendly chat, once or twice a week. Meals are provided either pre-cooked or frozen. No one has to pay for these meals, but those who can invariably do so through a donation. Currently, meals are distributed each Monday, through a network of volunteers who are coordinated to deliver the food hot to the door. Those that are able to have the option of attending a sit-down lunch at Lunesdale Hall, Kirkby Lonsdale – a great way for them to meet up and meet new people. Demand for meals is ongoing and is an important part of the week for both those at-home recipients and those coming to Lunesdale Hall in terms of nutrition and social interaction.
The most recent addition to ‘KL Community’ in the summer of 2021 is our physical and mental wellbeing project. We saw through the other elements of the initiative that came first that isolation and loneliness are significant issues, which contribute to the decrease in physical and mental well-being – especially of the older members of the community. We aim to expand this project through Mental health first aid and suicide awareness course for local residents.