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Keighley is among the most deprived towns in the region
Keighley ranks among the most deprived areas of the county, according to a charity set up to tackle poverty in the town.
Patrick and Liz McDonnell, who set up Living Lights Christian Outreach, say some families they deal with spend almost half of their income on heating their homes, leaving little for food or other basic comforts.
But rather than there being pockets of poor areas, the couple say there are people living in squalor in all areas of the town, as the problem is hidden in many cases.
Based at the Nazarene Church in Oakworth Road, the charity hands out emergency food bags and bedding – up to 50 each week, which equals 500 items of food.
They set up the charity last year, and run a mobile food bank and outreach service on Tuesday evenings. They take referrals from agencies and visit families in their homes.
Figures by charity Elizabeth Finn Care show many families in the BD21 postcode spend 46 per cent of their income on heating.
Patrick believes increasing costs of essentials is creating a “food crisis” in the town.
He said: “People are finding themselves in crisis because of unemployment, redundancy, homelessness, debt and addiction, and there’s a hidden story of families in our community struggling to feed themselves or heat their homes. We’ve witnessed appalling living conditions as we reach out a hand of hope to desperate families.
“The general view is although local agencies and churches are aware of the acute food and fuel poverty in Keighley, they are overwhelmed by the level of need. We will always need more help and more support.”
Liz added: “At this time of year, a lot of families have children on school breaks, so we see a lot of people who can’t afford to provide meals they normally get in school. If you have two or three children, this is a huge strain.
“A lot of people don’t realise what is going on, but we have seen people living in terrible conditions all over Keighley. We’ve seen places dripping with damp and families are spending every penny they have heating it.”
The group will soon launch a new website and is also starting a campaign to encourage churches, community groups and businesses to support their work.
The charity is supported by the town’s Asda and holds food collection days. The next is September 11. Contact Patrick on 07401 999399 or Liz on 07830 855544 for details.
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