SVP inspires community effort to set up clothes bank

By Simon Hart

A food bank in Norris Green has become a place where people can also access second-hand clothing – thanks to the initiative of a local St Vincent de Paul group and the support of their wider community.

The concept of a clothes bank came from the SVP group at St Teresa’s parish who asked fellow parishioners for donations of clothing and received an ‘overwhelming’ response according to member Kevin Hesketh, who explains: ‘We received about 50 bags of donated clothes and the objective then was to provide them “free” to those in need.’

It was St Teresa’s parish priest, Father Chris Fallon, who then advised them to seek help from St Christopher’s Church of England parish on Lorenzo Drive. ‘He suggested we contact Barbara Smith, the vicar from St Christopher’s whose team runs a local food bank in Norris Green, and ask if we can display the clothes there. Barbara was fantastic and immediately thought it was a great idea and would help all those families who visit the food bank.’

Another source of support was St Vincent’s School for Sensory Impairment and Other Needs, whose principal, Dr John Patterson, responded immediately to a request to allow the SVP group storage space on the school grounds for all the clothes collected. Hesketh describes the scheme, which began last October, as a heartening example of different groups uniting for a good cause. ‘It wouldn't have been possible without the support of all these groups of people – that's community support.

‘Two members of our SVP conference deserve a special mention too – John and Mary Caddick, who volunteered each week up until the lockdown in setting up the clothes display at the food bank and helping the families to choose what's right for them. It's been a great success and everyone looks forward to starting again in the future.’