Demand on the increase as Cambridgeshire foodbanks expand

PUBLISHED: 08:27 09 January 2014 | UPDATED: 08:27 09 January 2014

Godmanchester Food Bank volunteers, packing up, at Godmanchester Baptist Church

Godmanchester Food Bank volunteers, packing up, at Godmanchester Baptist Church

Archant

There is no let up in demand for emergency food parcels, according to the organisations responsible for handing them out.

Foodbanks have been established by voluntary groups across Huntingdonshire in response to an increase in the number of people who cannot afford to feed themselves or their families.

In St Ives, where there has been a foodbank run by All Saints’ Church since October, Father Mark Amey said the majority of those requiring help were having problems with benefit payments. “It’s when people have been assessed for benefits and they’re waiting for payments to come through.

“It could be the result of a marital break up or redundancy.”

Fr Amey said about six to seven families a week were approaching the foodbank, having been equipped with vouchers by agencies such as housing associations, social workers and children’s centre managers. “It’s steady growth. The signs are it’s going to continue.”

He was also keen to dispel the myth that parcels were going to scroungers. “We feel we have a duty to those that give us food 
that it goes to people in need who 
are referred from bona fide agencies, rather than people who 
want free food.”

The St Ives operation is expanding to cover Earith, Somersham and Pidley. Fr Amey said he had heard that someone walked from Somersham to Godmanchester before a foodbank opened in St Ives. “That’s not something you do unless you are desperate,” he added.

In Godmanchester, 30 volunteers at the town’s Baptist church prepared more than 90 hampers in the run-up to Christmas, an increase from 50 in 2012.

The foodbank’s steering group chairman Karen Smith said: “We asked the agencies us to nominate any of their clients they felt would particularly benefit from a hamper at Christmas. We had 94 nominations. It was a massive logistical exercise to get that organised. That was 300 metric tonnes of food, worth £5,700, for 300 people, 151 adults and 149 children.”

Mrs Smith thanked people who had made donations, adding: “We think, over the year, we handed out 13 metric tonnes of food, that’s £22,000 worth.”

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