Charity stall closes

Last day of the YMCA FoodCo fruit and veg trailer
Last day of the YMCA FoodCo fruit and veg trailer
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A CHARITY delivering fresh fruit and vegetables to homes in need has been forced to close a commercial venture created to raise money for the cause.

Fylde Coast YMCA’s FoodCo no longer sells produce to “ethical buyers” from a trailer set up at its St Albans Road base in St Annes.

The trailer, or mobile shop service, was set up a year ago as a social enterprise to help fund the charity’s other ventures.

Fylde Housing and community director for the charity, Stephen Heath said: “This is the retail set up of what we do.

“The main reason it was set up was to raise money for us to use in other aspects of our work. It was not achieving that so we have had to close it. It is with deep regret that we have been forced to take the decision to close the trailer side of the enterprise, particularly due to the huge commitment and energy of Mark Hazell who, in a voluntary capacity, has delivered the service in recent months.

“However, the outlet has not managed to generate an income sufficient to cover costs.

“The free food service which we have been doing for some time now will continue, and in fact we are currently in talks with our partners about how we can revamp that service.”

Mr Heath said if the trailer was to continue, it would eventually do so at a cost to another YMCA service.

The trailer was set up with a YMCA employee to tour Fylde housing estates and sheltered accommodation complexes without easy access to fresh fruit and veg.

Mr Heath said take up wasn’t worth the regular trips, so it was stationed at St Albans Road and manned by a volunteer.

He added: “I don’t think many people will be losing out as a result of this as we are not too far from a Sainsbury’s and an independent fruit shop. This was very much a commercial route to suit the ethical buyers.”

But St Annes resident Ian Coats disagrees. He said: “The hut has become a valued community asset in and around the St Albans Road area and it is deeply saddening the YMCA have decided to close it down without having given it a chance to grow.