Free bus tickets for local foodbank users
BUS companies in Merseyside are linking up with the region’s Metro Mayor to provide free bus travel for people in Sefton needing to get to foodbanks.
Liverpool city region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram announced on Friday that the combined authority would be working with Arriva and Stagecoach to provide 500 free bus tickets to those in need in Sefton.
The announcement was in advance of Sunday’s Merseyside derby, as Fans Supporting Foodbanks called for more support for the city region’s foodbanks, which are dealing with unprecedented demand.
Fans Supporting Foodbanks is a partnership between Everton Supporters’ Trust and Spirit of Shankly, who have come together to tackle foodbank shortages.
Mr Rotheram said: “As the UN special rapporteur Philip Alston said earlier this month, this country’s foodbanks are acting as a safety net, literally saving people living in abject poverty from starving to death.
“It is an affront to common decency that this should be the case in the fifth richest country in the world, but while this is the reality we will support those committed volunteers who provide this service across our city region.
“This weekend the whole city region is coming together to support our foodbanks and I am proud that we are playing our part by making 3,000 bus tickets available across all six of the city region’s local authority areas. It’s heart-breaking that we should have to do this but this is a duty that we cannot shirk.”
Each of the six local authority areas is receiving 500 free tickets.
Half of the cost of the 3,000 tickets will be paid for by the city region combined authority, with the other half paid by Arriva and Stagecoach.
The tickets will be distributed to foodbanks around the city region, which will distribute them, at their discretion, to clients with the greatest transport needs.
Howard Farrall, managing director at Arriva Merseyside, said: “Christmas can be a very difficult time of year for many and so it is more important than ever to reach out and help those in need.
“We’re proud to be supporting this initiative and hope to make things easier for those looking to travel to foodbanks around the Liverpool city region.”
Rob Jones, managing director of Stagecoach Merseyside, Cheshire and South Lancashire, said: “We’re delighted to be working in partnership with the Metro Mayor and our city partners to provide free bus tickets to make it easier for people living in poverty to get around.
“We know access to transport is vital and helps to connect communities and enable people to take up opportunities they may not otherwise be able to.
“As an Everton Football Club sponsor, we already work closely with the club and their charitable arm, Everton in the Community, as well as supporting a range of charities and community organisations across the city region, and it’s wonderful to see that the spirit of community is so alive in our city.”
Dave Kelly, chair of Fans Supporting Foodbanks, said: “We applaud Steve Rotheram for his actions and for his help, advice and support.
“The impact of austerity and the migration over to Universal Credit on December 5 will have a profound effect on the most vulnerable people within our communities.
“Our statistics indicate that on average a foodbank user will have a sixmile round trip to collect a three-day emergency supply of food.”
Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram, seen at a foodbank in Knowsley, announced free bus travel