PUBLIC health minister Jane Ellison paid a visit to East Lancashire yesterday and heaped praise on a charity which offers volunteer work for people recovering from drug or alcohol misuse.

The Conservative minister saw more than 50 volunteers from the Accrington-based Red Rose Recovery project take part in a clean-up at Burnley’s Towneley Park, and said the charity was ‘doing great things’.

She added: “Who wouldn’t be impressed by this. This organisation has helped people transform their lives and you can sense the excitement about it.”

The volunteers planted several trees and cleared around 40 bags of rubbish from the River Calder.

On her drive north from Whitehall, Ms Ellison read about the Lancashire Telegraph’s recent investigation into food poverty and the increasing use of food banks, which revealed Blackburn with Darwen has the highest proportion of underweight primary school children in England.

She said: “I don’t think we really know quite enough yet about why people use food banks, but it’s obviously concerning if children aren’t a healthy weight.

“The government’s overall focus is to lift families into a better position and we want to see people get back into employment.”