What an uplifting visit to Changing Lives Together (CLT) at The Old School House in Manchester Road, Northwich.

Here you have a charity doing exactly what it says on the tin – making a positive difference to the lives of people in our community.

With a workforce made up of local people, both paid and volunteers, CLT promotes employment and fulfilling experiences while creating innovative solutions to environmental and social challenges.

This is more crucial than ever given the twin cost-of-living and climate change crises we face. Any profits go back into local communities, not to shareholders.

Services are many and varied, supporting residents across the county. At Northwich a key amenity is a low-cost community grocery and café selling surplus supermarket food that would otherwise go to landfill. There’s also affordable paint, appliances and preloved furniture.

Behind the scenes, the electrical team give a new lease of life to second-hand washing machines available to buy.

Mainly, older men from the community sheds group refurbish the sofas, cabinets, tables and chairs you can find in the showroom, while enjoying keeping active and social through woodwork.

Volunteer telephone buddies and befrienders offer companionship to the lonely and isolated. The mental wellness team supports people struggling with lower-level anxiety and depression.

And the community transport team takes older folk and the vulnerable to day care centres and children with special needs to school. There’s also Dial-a-Ride service to pick people up for a shopping trip or to visit friends.

CLT is particularly proud of its work in local primary schools through family support teams. Trained employees act as a liaison between the school and parents, providing an impartial intermediary for anyone concerned about their child’s welfare.

The charity’s impact extends far beyond the individuals they directly serve. By fostering a sense of community and collaboration, they encourage all of us to get involved, give something back and cultivate qualities like compassion, understanding, and generosity.

In these challenging times, organisations like CLT remind us that even in the face of adversity, we can come together and make a difference.

I am proud to have Changing Lives Together in my constituency, and I am grateful for the remarkable work they do every day in Northwich and across Cheshire.

For more information about the full range of services on offer, plus how to become a volunteering hero, visit: changing-lives-together.org.uk/