Kids in Rossendale - a new charity that aims to help disadvantaged children

PUBLISHED: 00:00 20 March 2014

Paula Riley, Louise Cooper and Linzi Byrne

Paula Riley, Louise Cooper and Linzi Byrne

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A new micro-charity based in Crawshawbooth is aiming to help disadvantaged children across Rossendale

Geoff and Paula RileyGeoff and Paula Riley

The people of Somerset and the Thames Valley are counting the cost of flooding which has left behind a trail of devastation and despair. Homes have been wrecked, crops destroyed and livelihoods left in tatters but if the situation seems hopeless, those affected can take heart from the experience of a Lancashire village which went through its own flooding misery two years ago.

When water levels rose in Crawshawbooth in 2012 so did a sense of community togetherness which has lingered longer than the waters.

The legacy of the flooding is a new charity, launched by people in Rossendale to help people in Rossendale. It’s an idea people in other Lancashire communities might like to follow.

The micro-charity was set up by Paula Riley who runs the award-winning butcher’s in the village with her husband Geoff.

Kids in Rossendale aims to help disadvantaged people aged between six and 14 by giving small grants to help pay for things many families take for granted, such as club subscriptions, new football boots or school trips.

Paula launched the charity with Linzi Byrne and Louise Cooper and the three friends believe a lot of people across Rossendale will view the financial aid as invaluable. ‘I would imagine there will be hundreds of applications,’ Louise said. ‘The harsh reality is that there are a lot of children in need.’

In 2011 Paula completed the Three Peaks challenge and a trans-European car rally with Geoff and organised a fun day in the village to raise money for local and national charities. And when Folly Clough Brook burst its banks the following year and the pre-school based on the ground floor of the community centre was underwater, Paula and her friends decided to stage a second fun day.

The event raised thousands and in early 2013 Paula was asked if she was going to hold another. ‘I decided that if we did do it again it would be for a charity we had set up. I bumped into Louise in Asda and she said the same thing – we wanted to do something that would make a real difference in our local community.’

As a group scout leader, Louise was familiar with tales of young people unable to afford to take part in events or buy uniforms. She said: ‘It’s not uncommon for young families to be using food banks and to have no money left over for extras. To be disadvantaged these days covers a wide scope – you can have both parents in work and still be unable to pay for things.’

And Paula added: ‘There are young lads who want to play football but can’t afford a pair of boots or children who can’t go to parties because their parents can not afford to buy presents. It’s not on.

‘We want to provide a pair of football boots or a set of swimming lessons – things that will make a small difference to a lot of children, that’s more important to us than making a relatively small donation to a big charity.

‘We want to help every day people afford every day things by giving every day amounts of money. We can help more people by giving small amounts, not handing out a couple of grants of hundreds of pounds each.’

Their efforts so far have raised over £20,000 and Bacup-born Coronation Street star Sam Aston, who plays Chesney Brown, has become the charity’s patron and will help assess the applications the charity receives. Successful applicants will receive credit notes which can be spent in local shops with whom the charity has established relationships and the charity will then pay the shop.

Linzi said: ‘We have no overheads, we meet in each other’s houses and we don’t charge for admin work. We all want to give what we can and local people and businesses have been very supportive. Lots of people donated their time as well as money and they turned out in their droves for the fun days and we would love more people to get involved.’

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