Sisters launching Community Fridge to support families in cost-of-living crisis

·3-min read
Sisters-in-law Sarah Bernasconi-Parsons (left) and Fiona Mcnamee (right)
Sisters-in-law Sarah Bernasconi-Parsons (left) and Fiona Mcnamee (right)

The sisters-in-law behind Maggie’s Stillbirth Legacy are launching a Community Fridge in an effort to reduce food waste and support local residents, in honour of Maggie’s Legacy.

A Community Fridge is a dedicated space that brings people and local food businesses together to support people who may be struggling.

Fiona Mcnamee, 43, said she decided to launch a Community Fridge in Darwen because of the ‘unacceptable’ amount of food waste being sent to landfill, due to stringent food safety laws that require supermarkets to bin food.

She also noticed Darwen was one of the few towns in East Lancashire to not have a Community Fridge, which she believes is important to launch now more than ever due to the cost-of-living crisis.

Lancashire Telegraph: Maggie's Community Fridge
Lancashire Telegraph: Maggie's Community Fridge

Maggie's Community Fridge

She said: “Rising fuel prices affect people who work, and the rise in interest rates, and in gas and electricity is going to be felt not only by people on benefits who need help, but people who work.

“The cost of living is getting out of control and it’s really important people have something they can rely on and feed themselves.”

Earlier this year, a study found more people in Blackburn with Darwen are continuing to use food banks than before the start of the Covid-19 pandemic as the cost-of-living crisis worsens.

However, people can only access food banks if they are referred to by the council or social services, so many people don’t qualify.

Lancashire Telegraph: Baby products available at the Community Fridge
Lancashire Telegraph: Baby products available at the Community Fridge

Baby products available at the Community Fridge

This issue is why Fiona and her sister-in-law Sarah Bernasconi-Parsons, 41, were eager to open a Community Fridge in the town.

Fiona said: “Lots of these people who can’t access food banks have mortgages, car payments, huge gas and electricity bills – how do you choose which one you’re not going to pay?

"So, this Community Fridge is open to everyone, you don’t have to be referred, this is help everybody can access.”

Lancashire Telegraph: Sarah and Mayor of Blackburn with Darwen, Cllr Suleman Khonat and Mayoress Sumaiya Khonat at Maggie's Stillbirth Legacy gala in June
Lancashire Telegraph: Sarah and Mayor of Blackburn with Darwen, Cllr Suleman Khonat and Mayoress Sumaiya Khonat at Maggie's Stillbirth Legacy gala in June

Sarah and Mayor of Blackburn with Darwen, Cllr Suleman Khonat and Mayoress Sumaiya Khonat at Maggie's Stillbirth Legacy gala in June

Sarah, of Maggie’s Stillbirth Legacy, recently raised a whopping £7,200 at a fundraiser gala in June, whilst also volunteering at Blackburn Community Fridge.

Sarah launched the group in September 2015 after her daughter Maggie was laid to rest in July 2015. Since then, the pair have worked tirelessly to support families who have been affected by stillbirths and suffered this loss.

The money raised from the Community Fridge will be used to support Maggie’s Stillbirth Legacy by using the money to continue funding cold cots, memory boxes, bereavements rooms at hospitals, and equipment for children’s activities.

Lancashire Telegraph: Fiona and her partner Paul Hagan at the fundraiser gala in June
Lancashire Telegraph: Fiona and her partner Paul Hagan at the fundraiser gala in June

Fiona and her partner Paul Hagan at the fundraiser gala in June

“It really does support a huge breadth of the community,” Fiona said.

Blackburn Community Fridge and Blackburn Food Bank have provided support with the upcoming launch, and Rummage Rescuers kindly donated a fridge and freezer.

Marks & Spencer in Blackburn and Farmfoods are providing donations but Fiona and Sarah are still seeking support from local businesses and community groups.

The fridge will be located at Darwen Market Hall in Croft Street, Darwen, and will opened on Friday, September 23, at 10am by Mayor of Blackburn with Darwen Councillor Suleman Khonat, and then every Wednesday and Friday from 10am to 2pm, and Saturday 9am to 12pm.

Residents can pay £3 per visit to fill two carrier bags or £10 for four visits within a 28 day period, which works out as £2.50.

You can find more information on their Facebook page Maggie’s Community Fridge.