Merseyside Pantries reach big milestone

The Merseyside Your Local Pantry conference was a big success

Merseyside’s network of neighbourhood Pantries have now been visited 150,000 times, and can be springboards for renewed hope and strength across the region.

Dozens of Your Local Pantry coordinators, volunteers, members and supporters from across Merseyside gathered last week to celebrate their communities and share ideas, and this week they reached the 150,000 milestone.

6 people holding cut-out numbers, reading 150,000

The scale of the Merseyside Pantry reach

Merseyside has more Pantries than any other region in the UK, with 26 across Liverpool, South Sefton and St Helens. The 150,000 visits have been from 11,286 members. When members’ families are included, the Pantries have supported 27,745 people.

The regional conference was held at St Leonard’s Church in Bootle last week.

People took part in workshops, heard about national campaigns and initiatives they could join, shared practical tips for making Pantries work as well as possible, and watched this powerful film about the Pantry in Kensington Fields, about local people’s efforts to strengthen and safeguard the community.

"Hotbeds of social justice innovation"

Rich Jones, speaking at the Merseyside Your Local Pantry conference in Bootle

Rich Jones, chief executive of St Andrew’s Community Network, which supports many Pantries in the north of Liverpool, said at the conference:

“The beautiful thing about Pantries is that they have the potential to be hotbeds of social justice innovation. They are places where connection and relationship is cultivated. It’s a joy to see some of the additional initiatives that have been borne out of the Pantry experience, building communities rooted in dignity, choice, and hope.”

He added: “Poverty is mostly caused by structural and systemic issues, and at the moment it is exacerbated by rising living costs… The UK welfare system also makes it difficult for people struggling to get a decent income.”

Pulling together - and pulling apart the chains

Chris Shelley pulls apart a paper chain at the Your Local Pantry conference in Bootle, Merseyside

Chris Shelley, Your Local Pantry development worker for Merseyside, said Bootle had been poorly treated by decision-makers for many years, and was now an area with a lot of poverty, but he said:

“There are a lot of people who love this place and care about Bootle, and want to live here. If a community pulls together, it can do things, and that’s what Pantries are all about.” 

Chris had invited people arriving at the conference to write down a symptom or cause of poverty. These were formed into a paper chain, and at the end of the event Chris symbolically tore apart the chain, encouraging people to loosen poverty’s grip on people and communities.  

Thank you to everyone at Merseyside Pantries

James Henderson, national Your Local Pantry coordinator, said afterwards:

“It’s less than four and a half years since the first Pantry opened in Merseyside, and the growth and impact has been incredible. To reach nearly 30,000 people and 150,000 visits is remarkable, and I want to say a huge thank you to every member, volunteer and partner organisation who has been a part of this. 

“Merseyside’s Pantries are dynamic, welcoming, dignified places that offer choice and renew hope. 

“We know poverty in the UK is a national disgrace, and the cost of living scandal is pushing many more households into deep hardship. Whoever forms the next Government needs to make ending poverty a priority.

“At the same time, we praise and recognise the fantastic work of so many people working to reclaim dignity, choice and hope together in the meantime.”  

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