A LEADING councillor has paid tribute to the work the Salvation Army in helping local people in need.

Adrian Farley spoke out after seeing at first-hand how the Keighley branch gave both Christmas cheer and everyday essentials to people with little or no money.

He first saw church members and other volunteers busy preparing food parcels and Christmas gifts at their High Street base, then visited constituents who are directly helped by the Salvation Army.

Cllr Farley has now called on generous Keighley people – who are particularly supportive of the Salvation Army in the run-up to Christmas – to donate to food banks throughout the year.

He said: “The Salvation Army volunteers are providing an invaluable service and it was great to see what they were doing for the town – stepping in to make a difference.”

Cllr Farley represents Keighley West ward on Bradford Council, representing communities including Braithwaite, Bracken Bank and Laycock, and he regularly sees the plight of people living on low incomes in his ward.

Last year he met Salvation Army lieutenant Ben Cotterill during a meeting of the Keighley Place of Sanctuary group, and in December took up Ben’s invitation to spend the morning at the High Street headquarters.

Cllr Farley said: “It was a privilege to meet some of the volunteers coordinating the foodbank. It’s sad that they have had to increase their service.

“At the time of my visit the Christmas toy collection was well underway. It seemed they had a busy time ahead.

“Ven later took me around some of the residents of Keighley West Ward who receive food parcels. It’s across the board – there were refugees who had been placed in Keighley, elderly people, and low-income families.”

Cllr Farley said that after seeing the scale of the Salvation Army’s efforts, what concerned him most was the increased demand upon local food banks such as theirs.

He said: “The Government’s austerity programme continues to bite hard in towns like ours. The cost of living continues to rise and in many cases incomes are stagnant or falling: people are struggling.

“I’d like to express my heartfelt thanks to Ben and the team of volunteers at the Salvation Army for the difference they make to the many families throughout Keighley; not just at Christmas but all year through.

“I ask that the generous people of Keighley continue to support the Salvation Army or other foodbanks throughout the year.”

Cllr Farley said he was also concerned about the potential long-term effects for people living in poverty across Keighley, in areas such as education and health.

He added: “We’ve had a decade of no growth in the economy, wage freezes, and reductions in income in real terms.

The success of this year’s toy appeal meant that more than 300 children had something to open on Christmas Day morning.

Anyone who wishes to support the Salvation Army should email keighley@salvationarmy.org.uk or call 01535 603494.