Preston North End Community and Education Trust has taken over the former Heroes Hub in Fulwood by forming the PNECET Community Support Hub, to support the most vulnerable families of the community in response to the Coronavirus pandemic.
The forming of the provision follows the closure of the PNECET Helping Hampers campaign, which saw 1,300 essential food hampers delivered to those in need in the Preston area, funded by public donations – including from the first team squad – and a series of grants.
PNECET will support the young people of Preston through the Community Support Hub, which will work in partnership with a number of local schools, community centres and food banks in the city, and signpost those in need to their nearest food bank service.
Along with the local food bank services, PNECET has collaborated with Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and the hub’s founder, Naeem Din, to set up the Community Support Hub.
The hub initially operated as a free supermarket – the NHS Heroes Hub – for the benefit of NHS frontline workers after some staff struggled to purchase essential food supplies in the early stages of lockdown, following a high demand for goods.
A Heroes Hub was also introduced in Chorley, ensuring staff at both the Royal Preston Hospital and Chorley and South Ribble Hospital were supported through the initiative.
However, with the lockdown measures having eased recently, there is no longer the same need for the service, allowing PNECET, Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and hub founder Naeem to move forward by instead supporting vulnerable families.
Assistant head of community Harriet Creighton-Levis said: “After making more than 1,300 deliveries of our PNECET Helping Hampers, it was vital that we found another way to provide vulnerable people with essential supplies during this time, and forming the Community Support Hub will allow us to do exactly that.
“By working with local schools, community centres and food banks, we are able to supply to essential goods to those most in need.
“The Heroes Hub was an overwhelming success thanks to Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and the founder Naeem Din.
“We are extremely proud to have taken over the running of the hub, supporting young people and vulnerable school children in our local community at an unprecedented time of need, particularly during the summer holidays.
“I believe that no child should have to go through food poverty and this is another positive step in helping to support those in need in our local community.
“We would like to place on record our thanks to Morrisons Riversway, who have continued to supply generous donations, as well as Warbutons, who deliver fresh produce to the Hub on a weekly basis.”
As the NHS Heroes Hub, around 2,800 NHS staff in Preston and Chorley and a further 800 people in the vulnerable category – including homeless people and organisations such as soup kitchens and women’s refuge centres – were supported through the initiative.
Initial founder of the hub Naeem Din, who will continue to work on the hub with PNECET, said: “We’ve found ourselves in a situation where families are hungry, school children are hungry, so we want to redirect as much as possible into that area and the food banks and carry on supporting the community as best as we can moving forward.
“To team up with Preston North End, which is doing its bit for the social aspect of the community, I think it makes sense for us to move forward hand in hand.”
Lancashire Teaching Hospitals’ head of charity and fundraising Paula Wilson added: “The Heroes Hub project has probably been one of the most amazing examples of how people from many backgrounds and faith groups can come together and make such a huge difference.
“Naeem and the team really stood up to support their local NHS Hospitals when the global health crisis hit.
“I am delighted that their efforts will now go to support the great work that PNE are undertaking in looking after the more vulnerable children and young people across our local communities.”
For more information about the Heroes Hub and to get involved, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.