Fleetwood, in West Lancashire, is an urban community, parts of which suffer from high social deprivation and where the life expectancy of its 26,000 residents is significantly lower than the national average. This added to the new threat of coronavirus has spurred the Freemasons of the North Fylde Group into action to help the residents, not only in Fleetwood, but the whole of Wyre area
The group chairman Peter Greathead and vice chairman John Cross, following an initiative on the frontline by the group’s charity steward Jim Gregson, approached the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity and were delighted when they were successful in gaining a grant of £5,000.
The money will be spent in donating high quality healthy meals, prepared in Fleetwood Masonic Hall by the group caterer and member of Symphony Lodge No. 4924 Lee Williams, with the raw materials provided at cost by local suppliers like Eezi-Freeze of Blackpool owned by Chris Hardingham, a member of Onward Lodge No. 5540. The meals are then distributed by the volunteers of Fleetwood Together. The group has started with an ambition of providing an initial 200 meals, but hope to double that over the next few weeks.
Fleetwood Together is the Fleetwood community response to the Covid-19 pandemic. It was initiated by local a Freemason, Reverend Canon John Hall, who called together leaders of the local Faith Community and secular leaders from various agencies in the town.
The group have now been delivering food parcels five days a week over the last five weeks. Initially, the project was based at St David's Church of England Church, but due to demand the project was moved to the port’s Marine Hall.
The model of working as a team has been so effective that Wyre Council decided to formally adopt the model as a model of good practice and has since created three other Food Hubs around the Fylde area.
There are three aspects to the work of Fleetwood Together. First, there is the call centre at Rossall School, managed by five regular volunteers, five days a week from 8am until 4pm. Second, there is the food collection and distribution point at the Marine Hall, again managed by volunteers, approximately 25 of them. Finally, there are drivers and there can be any number of them, delivering food parcels in Thornton, Cleveleys, Poulton, Carleton and Fleetwood.
In the week beginning 20th April 2020, 1,000 people were fed by the group’s food parcels and on average 100 parcels a day are sent out, five days a week. A parcel of food is designed to last about a week and its contents depend upon size and age of family and any other particular need. Referrals can come from the local doctor's surgery, Regenda Housing Association, the CAB, local schools or even self-referrals.