In the Spring of 2022, the long story of Fleetwood Together came to an end. This article, written by Canon Alf Hayes, Parish Priest of St Wulstan and Edmund, and by Lucy McNeill of West View Community Centre is to say a huge thank you to the many volunteers for their unstinting generosity and practical concern for our fellow citizens during these last two difficult years.
Our intrepid beekeepers have been busy, during the week, with several swarms in the local area.
Click the picture to watch them in action!
Thank you to the Volunteers of Fleetwood Together
Before the Pandemic, St Wulstan and Edmund’s SVP Foodbank and St Peter’s Mustard Seed had individually been providing food for the needy of Fleetwood for nearly 11 years. West View Community Centre also ran a Members’ Food Club. Donations of food and monetary gifts from members of the public were gratefully accepted, and Supermarkets were very generous with surplus products. All went fairly smoothly and gently along.
Then, in March 2020 everything changed. Suddenly, because of Lockdown, many more people who would not normally need help, were stranded and unable to source food. Immediately these three organisations came together for a crisis meeting, and invited other organisations such as Fleetwood Town FC, the Masons, Rotary etc to attend. We agreed to pool our resources and gave ourselves the name “Fleetwood Together”. That was on a Friday and by Monday we were up and running.
For the first week we operated from St David’s church, but within days the requests for help had rocketed and we had to find somewhere bigger – a lot bigger! That’s when Wyre Borough stepped in with the offer of free use of the Marine Hall, where, for the first four months of lockdown, it became a hive of activity, staffed entirely by volunteers.
At the peak of the pandemic, our twenty or so drivers were taking out crates of food to over 600 homes, not just in Fleetwood but throughout Wyre, feeding 1500-1600 people per week. At the Marine Hall we had people who did a huge variety of tasks to make the operation run smoothly. Firstly, there were people who answered and dealt with all the incoming telephone calls for help, then collators who sorted out clients’ individual needs on the computer. After them came the sorters, shelf stackers, freezer stockers, people who split bulk supplies into family size rations, made up bags of fruit and vegetables, sorted out hygiene products, and pet food, etc. All these items were put together in crates by a ‘conveyor belt’ type system of volunteers and taken out to the drivers by the despatch team. It was an awesome operation by amateurs, which I think Amazon would have been proud of.
So what now? The two churches in the meantime have come together to form a new Trust called ‘Faith in the Community’, and will continue to be the ‘Foodbank’ for Fleetwood, operating out of The Pantry, situated in the old Fleetwood hospital in North Albert Street. West View Community centre is reverting to its pre-Covid way of serving the community, as are the other organisations. Although we know the worst is over, we are under no illusions that this is the end of hardship for many people, and all of these organisations, I am sure, will still be doing their best to help.
We really were Fleetwood Together at its very best.
Canon Alf Hayes: Parish Priest, St Wulstan and Edmund
Lucy McNeill: West View Community Centre
TODAY'S MESSAGE FROM BISHOP PAUL (For all parishes and religious houses in the diocese)
You will be aware that the Holy Father, Pope Francis, will be consecrating Russia and the Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary next Friday 25th March at 5pm local time, Solemnity of the Annunciation. It has been requested by Bishops and Faithful in Russia, Ukraine and around the world.
As an expression of solidarity with this act, I will personally perform the same consecration in Lancaster Cathedral on the same day (Friday 25th March) at 5pm. It will be a simple act of trust including prayers to Our Blessed Lady and expressions of penitence. I am aware that 5pm on a Friday is not the easiest time to negotiate Lancaster’s traffic, but if any of the Faithful wish to join me they are most welcome. My hope is for the event to be recorded and put online via the Cathedral website.
I take this opportunity to thank you and encourage you and your parishioners in all you are trying to do, spiritually and materially to help those who have been driven from their homes and country.
As we remember the Ukraine crisis, let us keep in our hearts so many other peoples and places where violence and tragedy are happening.
I am aware that this comes too late for your weekend newsletter, so please announce this at all Sunday Masses.
Rt Rev Paul Swarbrick
Bishop of Lancaster
PASTORAL LETTER FROM BISHOP PAUL for the First Sunday of Lent ~ 06.03.22
Click here to read letter.
UKRAINIAN APPEAL ~ Its not too late to donate locally ~ 05.03.22
Fleetwood Rotary & @AffinityLancs are also collecting items. Welcome donations are toiletries, sleeping bags, cooking pots/pans, bedding, dried food (at least 1 yr before date). Collection point is vacant unit next to Klass,
Sat & Sun 5/6 March 11am - 3pm.
THANK YOU ~ 04.03.22
Following the appeal on Wednesday, we have today filled the mini bus with very generous donations which Fr Alf took to Blackpool tonight to Marta and her friend. They are going to have a very busy time packaging all the donations ready to go to the airport tomorrow.
Thank you to the many parishioners and school families who sent very needy donations.
URGENT APPEAL FOR UKRAINE ~ 02.03.22
As you will be very aware, there is a great need for items for Ukrainian refugees who have been forced to leave their country. There are many local organisations collecting essential items.
One shipment is to leave on Saturday from Blackpool and items may be dropped off at church or the presbytery before 5pm on Friday to be included. Please ring 07732278730 (Maria D) if you need items collecting.
Items needed: toiletries – soap, shampoo etc, nappies, wet wipes, women’s hygiene products, bandages & first aid kits, toys. (No clothes as these are being covered by other organisations.
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