St James' Church becomes new home for Auntie Irene's Pantry

Date published: 01 April 2021

Auntie Irene’s Pantry has found a new home at St James’ Church in Milnrow, following a Rochdale Online appeal.

Launched earlier this year by local resident Tom Bishop and councillor Irene Davidson, Auntie Irene’s Pantry aims to ensure that nobody goes without essentials during lockdown.

The pantry, originally called Project Together, which had been operating out of Butterworth Hall, has now found a new home at St James’ Church. The congregation reached out after reading our previous appeal and offered a permanent place in the church for as long as the pantry is needed.

Auntie Irene’s Pantry will transfer to St James’ on Sunday 11 April where it will operate the same hours used at Butterworth Hall.

Both Tom and Irene said they 'were extremely grateful' of the gesture and to anyone who offered help.

Irene added: “The church has done a wonderful job clearing space for us.”

Butterworth Hall will still be used as a drop-off point for those who can’t access the church, with times and days to be determined.

Tom said: “People think you need to be in dire straits to use a foodbank, but it doesn’t matter where you live or what your status is. I think there’s a misconception that it’s not needed because Milnrow and Newhey is one of the last places [in the Rochdale borough] to have a foodbank or similar service.”

Councillor Davidson added: “It’s not just about food. We can help with finance and other contacts.

“You don’t need to book; just turn up if you’re in need. There is a stigma of ‘it’s not for me’ but anyone is welcome; bring a plastic bag and put items in that will get you through the week. If you’re still stuck the following week, come back. If you have to choose between paying the bills and eating, come to us for food, pay your bill and keep a roof over your head.

“We will ask no questions other than ‘is there any other way we can help you?’”

Anyone in need can message the page privately to arrange a delivery if required, or you can contact Irene directly too: “If you want to talk to us, you can turn up and we can chat to you in a private room to see if we can take our help further. We can deliver to your doorstep, ring the bell and leave without seeing you, if that’s what you prefer.”

The pantry has a good stock of both tinned and dry goods, but requires pasta sauces, tinned meat, tinned potatoes, Easter eggs, all personal items including sanitary products and cereals like porridge.

Cash donations are also welcome so that volunteers can purchase special items such as baby food, any dietary requirements, prepaid cards for heating or electricity, or fresh bread on the day.

You can find out more via Facebook: 

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