THE plight of Bolton families struggling during tough financial times was highlighted during a “Gifts of Easter Hope” event in the town’s Victoria Square on Saturday.

Many Christian, charitable and welfare organisations united to provide vital information and advice for visitors.

And it was fitting that Bolton Wanderers Community Trust should also be represented as the soccer club’s international midfielder Stuart Holden had given his support to the event.

People had the opportunity to make donations to the food bank or offer help with volunteering.

Foodstuffs collected during the day at the Urban Outreach (Bolton) stall will be distributed to local needy families.

Among those taking part were St Luke’s Church, the Salvation Army, Christians Against Poverty, Street Angels, Befriending Refugees and Asylum Seekers (BRASS) and Bolton Community and Voluntary Services (CVS).

Visitors were given information about debt support, counselling, health, alcohol and drug dependency and social welfare support. And representatives from Bolton Council provided benefits advice.

The Rt Rev Chris Edmondson, the Bishop of Bolton, opened “Gifts of Easter Hope” and other guests included the Mayor and Mayoress of Bolton, Guy and Colette Harkin, Bolton Wanderers Community Trust also set up a “chip-it” area to test the footballing skills of youngsters.

Wanderers’ club chaplain Phil Mason said “Gifts of Easter Hope” was important in raising awareness of those in crisis and the services available, such as the food bank. Praising the work of Bolton Wanderers Community Trust, he added: “Its aim is to get involved and to engage with the community.”

Mr Ibrahim Ismail, chairman of Bolton CVS, said that the problem of families facing financial hardship was not confined solely to one particular sector.

He said: “A lot of people from all sections of society are affected by these economic times.”

Among those involved in organising “Gifts of Easter Hope” were Churches Together, Bolton Christian Community Cohesion and Urban Outreach.

Vicar of Bolton, Rev Matt Thompson, said that “Gifts of Easter Hope” recognised that some people were facing “hard times.”

He added: “It was a very special event. It was held particularly to show the people of the borough that the churches and their partners are trying to reach out to the community while at the same time collecting for the food bank.”