ROSSENDALE’S first permanent food bank has opened.

The donation point at the Tesco store in Haslingden was launched by Rossendale charity the RAFT Foundation.

They have been working since July to deliver food parcels to hard-up families in the Valley.

Chairman and co-founder Kate Crane said she was delighted to have the backing of the superstore.

She said: “Tesco has been very supportive since we started. We have been hoping for a permanent collection point for some time and we managed to agree it with the store two weeks ago.

“Hopefully there will be further donation points opened in the future, we are talking to the Rawtenstall store as well and in early discussions with the Co-Operative in Bacup.

“Colette Butler, the Haslingden store’s community champion, has been brilliant and really helpful in setting this up.”

The charity has dealt with a steady amount of referrals since its formation, but Kate said the week leading up to Christmas had seen requests double.

Donations come mainly in the form of non-perishable foods, but one package from mental health charity Rossendale Rubicon included hand-knitted gloves for children.

Kate added: “Although it’s maybe needed more at Christmas, our pledge is to help people in Rossendale all year round.

“Come April when further welfare reform kick in we’re expecting to be really busy.”

The Rossendale Schools’ District football team has also been helping the charity by paying their match fees in food instead of cash.

One of the team’s coaches, Jon Edmondson, said: “We wanted to create a bit of social awareness among the 15 to 16-year-old lads, to show them how fortunate they are.

“We want to teach them qualities of respect so that they can take those qualities into life as young adults. “

There’s been a great response by the lads and their parents. It shows Rossendale in a really good light.” RAFT currently distributes the food to high-priority cases referred to them by the citizens’ advice bureau and Green Vale Homes.