Everton in the Community has secured significant funding from the Community Organisations Cost of Living Fund delivered by The National Lottery Community Fund to develop its Blue Base Pantry which tackles financial hardship in North Liverpool.
Delivered in partnership with Fans Supporting Foodbanks, Your Local Pantry, Feeding Liverpool and St Andrew’s Community Network, the initiative was launched in June 2022 to help Liverpool 4 residents and charity participants deal with the aftereffects of the Covid-19 pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis. The weekly Blue Base Pantry is a member-centred scheme that provides access to discounted food and key wrap-around services including guidance on benefits, welfare and housing support from organisations such as Citizens Advice Liverpool and Riverside Housing.
Situated in one of the most deprived wards in the UK, the Blue Base Pantry was initially launched to combat food insecurity in the local area, but it has quickly evolved to address several different challenges that are prevalent in Liverpool 4 such as declining mental health and employability struggles. Members also have access to regular health screenings and a fortnightly jobs fair hosted by the charity’s Employability team.
The Government’s Community Organisations Cost of Living Fund is being delivered by The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest community funder in the UK. Grants will support charities and community organisations in England at the frontline of dealing with the increase in the cost of living – which has subsequently placed additional financial strain on the operational costs of Everton in the Community’s Blue Base Pantry and the local communities it serves.
The Blue Base Pantry currently supports more than 160 local families and 428 active members weekly, with demand continuing to grow rapidly. Thanks to the vital funding received from the Government, Everton in the Community will be able to expand its service further so it can support even more families and residents within the Blue Mile who need it, as well as increase its staff and volunteer team, source additional food and hygiene products and extend its current opening hours.
The pantry is now the third biggest ‘Your Local Pantry’ in the UK and was recently cited as an example of best practice in the UK Parliament’s DEFRA Food Security Reports. The initiative has also been recognised at national and regional award ceremonies during that time including ‘Best Corporate Social Responsibility Scheme’ at the 2023 Football Business Awards and ‘Community Initiative of the Season’ at the 2023 Northwest Football Awards.
To date, the pantry has had 11,320 visits and fed a total of 30,091 individuals – an especially poignant moment for the initiative passing the 30,000 milestone last week. The pantry also hit a record number of visits the week prior – with 184 families having attended and 529 individuals fed during that service alone, whilst the most recent pantry marked the third time this month that more than 500 people have been fed weekly.
Ryan O’Hanlon, Blue Family Coordinator at Everton in the Community, said:
“We’re so grateful to receive this funding, the money will not only support the sustainability of the Blue Base Pantry but also enables us to expand – and enhance – this service.
“We’re extremely proud of the community we’ve built and how many people we’ve helped along the way. We’ve managed to create a welcoming and engaging environment which is far removed from that of a typical foodbank and look forward to what we can achieve in the future with the pantry.”
You can find out more about Community Organisations Cost of Living Fund funding here.