A COMMUNITY organisation in the heart of Blackburn has helped to feed more than 1,400 children over the summer holidays.

Inspired by last year's campaign to end child poverty, which was launched by Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford, volunteers from Shadsworth with Whitebirk Big Local have handed out a whopping 1,412 free lunches to hungry children across the town over the six week holidays.

The Fighting Holiday Hunger scheme was initially set-up to help feed youngsters who are entitled to free school meals during term time, after MPs voted against a motion to extend free meal vouchers for children in need over the holiday periods up until Easter 2021.

But with the effects of the pandemic still impacting many families in Blackburn and beyond, volunteers from the Big Local decided to continue with the scheme right across summer to ensure no child went hungry.

Shane Calvert from community group, Shad Chefs, who helped with the campaign, said: "We have a community shop on Accrington Road where kids have been able to come and get a free grab bag containing sandwiches, crisps, juice and a little sweet treat.

"We were open Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, and between five volunteers we've given out 1,412 of the bags."

The campaign, which had the support of local councillors and was made possible thanks to donations from nearby businesses, ended yesterday as many of the children in the area are due to return to school on Wednesday (today), but the volunteers say they will carry on fighting child hunger for as long as they can.

Elaine Sampson, who has been instrumental in the success of the Big Local said the community shop had also been selling heavily discounted second hand school uniforms for anyone who was struggling to pay the high street prices in the run up to the Autumn term starting.

She added: "I think this scheme has helped the children and their families massively, as during the holidays there's a lot of children who might not have been able to have a proper meal until tea time.

"We've been selling used uniforms too, with the most expensive item being a blazer at £5.50, and we're going to continue with the scheme throughout the next half term."

For more information on the Whitebirk with Shadsworth Big Local visit their Facebook page.