Free bus tick­ets for lo­cal food­bank users

Southport Visiter - - Visiter Active - BY CHRISTY BYRNE [email protected]­i­tymir­ror.com @ByrneChristy

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

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