A GROUP of community-spirited people from Ellesmere Port – backed by pop star Natasha Hamilton – have been fasting for 24 hours to help raise funds to feed 200 struggling families over the Christmas period.

Bridge Community Farms in Great Sutton has teamed up with Sarah Finlay from local peer support group, Milestone Mums, and the Food for Thought Ellesmere Port initiative to provide food hampers over the festive period.

Food for Thought Ellesmere Port, comprising a group of individuals wanting to help their community, have been challenging people to go hungry – and encourage three of their friends to do the same – to gain an insight into how life is for some families on a regular basis.

The group had set a target of £750 to cover the cost of Christmas dinner for 200 families – but have already smashed it, raising a staggering £3,000.

The money will be used to supply each family with a packed vegetable box from Bridge Community Farm, along with a turkey joint, a pudding, mince pies and crackers, plus a pamper pack for mums from Milestone Mums.

Atomic Kitten star Natasha Hamilton – who became a Milestone Mums’ patron last year – has pledged her support to the campaign, along with more than 140 other people who have either donated or completed the fasting challenge.

Clair Johnson, general manager of Bridge Community Farm, said: "Whilst the majority of us during lockdown will have been planning for the forthcoming Christmas period and all its festivities, there are families who will be wondering how they will get through Christmas this year.

"They may even be wondering how they will get through this week or even this day. These will not just be families in receipt of benefits or who are entitled to free school meals.

Chester and District Standard:

Natasha Hamilton with Milestone Mums founder Sarah Finlay.

"These will be working families that, through no fault of their own, are struggling to make ends meet.

"Families who are having to make a choice whether to heat their homes or feed their children and go without themselves.

"As a group, we wanted to do something to help. Going hungry for 24 hours is a small way of experiencing what it feels like."

Sarah Finlay, founder of Milestone Mums, a peer support group for mums with mental health problems, added: "Three years ago I had post-natal depression after having my daughter and was unable to go back to work.

"I know what it feels like to go hungry. At that time, I was living off £30 a week, which mostly went on baby milk and nappies.

"As part of the challenge, I fasted for 36 hours which I found really tough and upsetting. To feel that kind of hunger filled me with sadness as it made me realise how many people feel this on a regular basis and children are going to school hungry.

"To be able to participate in a project that’s going to help feed our local families Christmas dinner fills me with so much pride.

"We’re delighted with the money that has been raised so far but are looking for more donations so we can help more families."

Food for Thought Ellesmere Port is concerned that 14% of local families with children have experienced food insecurity in the past six months, with a staggering 75% of these families being in employment.

The team are currently looking for people who can help fill hampers and distribute them.