A goodwill group that has provided free clothes, food, furniture and bedding to poverty-stricken people in Blackpool for more than a quarter of a century has been partially shut down.
Blackpool Care and Share, which is based at St Monica’s Church in Mereside, was forced to temporarily close just after Christmas due to a number of problems at the church hall, including lack of heating and asbestos in a boiler room.
It will now attend emergency cases only for at least six weeks, with donations being collected at the home of the group’s founder, Linda McEvilly, on Bowness Avenue.
She said: “At the moment its quite a bit too cold to operate from the church.
“The boiler packed in about six weeks ago and we got engineers in, and when they came around they told us there was asbestos.
“It’s just in the packing around the boiler in a shed, but it needs to be removed.”
She added that planned operations on both her wrists meant that she will be unable to pick up or drop off heavy goods for around six weeks.
The group is still appealing for donations of kitchen equipment, small household items, radios, bedding and toiletries for the poorest of the poor living in Blackpool.
However, its monthly ‘swap shops’, where needy people can fill bags full of clothes for free, have been temporarily put on hold.
Linda said: “What I’m going to do for the next couple of months is ask other communities to hold swap shops in their areas.
The first group I have asked is Tarnside Community Centre in Mereside, and they were all on board.
“I have still got a few good volunteers who will pick up donations. The donations that people would usually drop off at the church they should drop off at my address.”
Father Daniel Etienne. of St John Vianney Church, which also oversees St Monica’s, added that the room in which the small amount of asbestos was contained has been closed off, and does not pose any threat to the public.
He said: “The church and church hall will remain open.
“(The repairs) involves money so there is no time scale on it yet. Nobody has access to the boiler room.
We have had a report done and that was more positive than we were led to believe. We’re not worried about it and it can be dealt with.”