New Foodshare initiative opens in Whitworth to help feed families in need

Date published: 08 October 2020

A new community Foodshare initiative has opened in Whitworth, allowing local people to get food parcels of all the basics they need to help feed their families.

A partnership between the long-running Rochdale Soup Kitchen and Whitworth Methodist Church, the new initiative opened at The Lighthouse, 551-553 Market Street, Whitworth on Tuesday 15 September.

With the help of local supermarkets and donations from the public, the Whitworth Lighthouse Community Foodshare will be open every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday between 10am and 3pm for residents to collect food packages, all done on a referral basis.

Marilyn Jones, who started Rochdale Soup Kitchen in 2013 with Vida Slater, said: “Being a resident of Whitworth myself, I recognised the increasing need for a project like this and the disused Methodist church, also known as The Lighthouse, made the perfect space, so we decided to open it up as a Foodshare.

“Being a not-for-profit organisation entirely set up and run by volunteers, this means the service relies on local supermarkets who provide fresh produce seven days a week, as well as donations from the public. These donations are then equally distributed between the Whitworth Foodshare and Rochdale Soup Kitchen.

“Some of our fantastic volunteers are helping at both the Lighthouse and the Soup Kitchen; we genuinely cannot say how much we appreciate your help and enjoy your company. Getting the Lighthouse set up has not only been very time consuming but also expensive with many costs, and we simply would not have been able to create what we have without some very generous cash donations. These mean more than we can say.

"Having two sites to support now means that the donations are vital to maintain a constant supply to feed people, we are maintaining a service to approximately 85 to 90 people at the Soup Kitchen over three nights a week - some of these people tell stories of sleeping in scrap cars and other situations that are an unacceptable sign of our times, but we are so pleased we can help them with food at least.

“The donations of incoming food are so valued, along with all the stores and people that donate. Those in need who have been referred to us can expect tins and packets of staple items such as soup and pasta, fresh bread and pastries, cakes, sauces, condiments, and more.

"We have some very welcome new people donating in our growing list of thanks, these include the following: Aldi, Asda, Buckley Hall, Greggs, Lidl, Marks and Spencer, Morrisons, Oldham Foodbank, Rochdale Infirmary, Rochdale Sixth Form College, Shawclough Stores, Tesco Express and Wardle bakery (Tattersalls)."


Some of the donations provided by local supermarkets and individuals
Some of the donations provided by local supermarkets and individuals


As a church partner, the Whitworth Foodshare will be subject to its safeguarding and data protection policies. The lead volunteer each day will be DBS certificated and all user information will be treated as confidential. To adhere to Covid-19 government guidelines, social distancing will also be maintained during appointments, track and trace information recorded, appropriate PPE will used including hand sanitiser and 15-minute intervals will be mandatory between appointments to mitigate Covid-19 exposure, allowing volunteers to clean between visits.

Marilyn continued: “We have fantastic people helping by filling bags and handing them out, and in some cases spending their own money, in preparing homemade meals. Donations are always welcome, and more volunteers is always great.

“We have been open in Whitworth now for nearly a month and we are seeing the number of service users increasing weekly. This is sadly a sign of the times, proving the need for a project like this, but we are so pleased to be able to help.

“Due to Covid restrictions, you cannot just turn up at The Lighthouse. We cannot have more than one shopper in the building at a time, so you must be referred to us or you can refer yourself to receive donations, where we will then arrange an appointment for you to come in.”

If you think you would benefit from the Whitworth Lighthouse Community Foodshare, or if you want to get involved as a volunteer, you can refer yourself by calling 07922 951 096 or email

You can also be referred through your local doctors surgery, school, social services, dentists, council offices and councillors.

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