More than 130 people turned up to celebrate International Women's Day in Clitheroe on Saturday.
And over £300 was raised for Ribble Valley Foodbank, while hundreds of pounds worth of female hygiene products such as tampons and toiletries were also donated.
Throughout the day, visitors were served free home-made cakes, chilli, vegan curry, baked potatoes and “Buddha bowls” of salad and grains, in a cafe-style atmosphere. Craft activities and free hand massages, all provided by volunteers, also proved popular.
Speakers included Mark Taylor from Action for Happiness, who explained that, once people were financially secure, it is giving to others and getting involved in our communities which increases feelings of personal well-being, rather than simple financial success.
Labour councillor Alyson Barnes, who is leader of Rossendale Council, spoke about her involvement in local government and how women had a key role to play in building and improving their communities.
Chrissie Fuller and colleagues from the Chorley Women Against State Pension Injustice spoke about their campaign for fair transitional pension arrangements for women born in the 1950s. This generation of women has had two changes to their state pension age, meaning that retirement has had to be postponed for up to six years causing acute financial hardship for many.
Anne Taylor, who is Labour women's officer for the constituency, said that she was delighted with the turn-out.
“We wanted this to be a really inclusive event and it was great to see so many women – and some men and children – turn up. We are asking those who attended to give us feedback by messaging us on our Facebook page: Ribble Valley International Women's Day 2019," said Anne.
“As well as celebrating women's contributions to the community, we also asked women to write on our 'wall' and tell us what matters to them. While people were generally happy with community spirit locally, they did have wider concerns."
Four key themes emerged:
• People were worried about the lack of services for young people locally, both in education and mental health support;
• Many were also concerned about the lack of infrastructure to cope with the surge in house building in the Ribble Valley. They feared that the health centre and local NHS services were struggling to cope and also had worries about crime and the fall in the number of police officers;
• There were worries about the environment, both locally and and on a global level. These worries extended from fracking to inadequate recycling facilities in the borough;
• There were also concerns about pensions and welfare services for older people.
“These are the things that matter to women in the Ribble Valley, and our voices need to be heard,” said Anne.
Livvy Pamphlett and Dani Murtagh, who are joint women's officers for the Ribble Valley Labour Party, said: “We were thrilled to see such a diverse group of local people coming together to enjoy the day and discuss things that matter to them. We are very grateful to all the volunteers who helped make the day a success, and to everyone who attended and gave so generously to our food bank collections.”
The event, held at Clitheroe's St Mary's Centre, was organised and funded by Ribble Valley Labour women, who provided catering, craft materials and raffle prizes. After costs, such as room hire and printing, were covered, the balance of donations and raffle takings was given to the food bank. Raffle prize winners are being contacted.