A Blackpool outreach group that offers a helping hand to homeless and struggling people across the resort has been forced to close its doors to large donations until the new year because of flooding.
But the founder of Care and Share, which has run in the resort for more than a quarter of a decade, has vowed not to throw in the towel - saying ‘every child should have something to open on Christmas’.
Care and Share, which traditionally hands out around 400 Christmas hampers filled with gifts for poverty-stricken children and adults every year, was flooded when heavy rainfall hit the coast in early October.
Water soaked into the floors and walls at its headquarters on Tarnside, Mereside, which means the group can no longer accept donations of clothes, shoes and other large items for fear of them going mouldy.
Founder Linda McEvilly, 74, said: “We were flooded for more than a week in October. Water has pooled underneath the house and it’s coming up through the middle wall.
“But we are very excited about our Christmas hampers and we’re packing them up as we speak.
“I’m storing the presents at my house because Tarnside is damp, but we’re managing, though we can’t take clothing donations until after Christmas.”
This year marks a second challenging festive season for Care and Share, as last year the group was forced to leave its former base at St Monica’s Church due to a number of problems at the church hall, including lack of heating and asbestos in a boiler room.
Linda, who has run the group for 25 years, said: “I was running it out of my house when the church was closed.
“I don’t know how we managed it, but we did, and we’ll do it again.
“It’s important to me to make sure that every child has something to open on Christmas. And not just every child, but every lonely man or woman who is living in a hostel, so show that somebody has thought about them. That somebody has bought something with love just for them.”
Care and Share usually holds a monthly ‘swap shop’, where people in need can fill a bin bag full of second-hand clothes for free.
These are scheduled to return in January, when it is expected the damage caused by the flooding will be fixed.
In the meantime, the group is still accepting donations of toys, toiletries, hats, scarves and other gifts for its Christmas hampers. These can be delivered to 5, Tarnside.
Linda said: “I’m always optimistic. Although it has hampered us, we have still carried on. I have got three volunteers and they have been absolute superstars. I’m very proud of them.
“I’ve just got to stay on my feet, Next year I’m 75 and I think nobody will take over if I drop dead, so I’ve just got to carry on for all the people in need.”