Demand for help from foodbank increases by more than 80 per cent in a year


- Credit: Archant

A foodbank which supports people in Huntingdonshire has seen a staggering 82 per cent rise in demand over the past year.

Godmanchester FoodBank helped more than 2,500 adults in 2016-17 compared with 1,381 the year before - and organisers of the scheme cannot see demand falling in the immediate future

The foodbank, based at Godmanchester Baptist Church, saw big increases in the number of people seeking help because of illness, which almost doubled from 27 to 53, a rise of 96 per cent, and debt, which went up by 80 per cent from 56 cases to 101.

The biggest demand remains people on low incomes where 547 adults were helped, up from 513, and delays from changes to benefits, where support was given to 358 people, an increase from 319.

Peter Levitt, administrator of Godmanchester FoodBank, said: “Each year numbers are going up and up. We are getting increasing use, there is no question.

“We can’t see it going away, it is people in crisis not people sitting around and wanting a handout. It is not a hand out, it is a hand up when people are in trouble.”

Mr Levitt said the rollout of the Universal Credit benefit was likely to make the situation worse, at least in the short-term.

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He said many of the foodbank’s users were in work but simply did not have the money to make ends meet.

Mr Levitt said the foodbank was about to launch an appeal to provide needy families with Christmas hampers.

Godmanchester FoodBank is part of the Trussell Trust network but is self-governing and is run by volunteers. It collects about 35 tonnes of food for distribution each year.

Mr Levitt said the food was not just handed out - recipients had to be referred for help.

He thanked the schools, churches, youth groups, businesses and individuals who had supported their “Combined Harvest” appeal which had brought in 2,700kg of food, enough for 150 emergency three day food parcels for people in crisis.

Cub scouts at Alconbury had collected 600kg of food with a collection point in a canoe and their counterparts at Papworth had collected 700kg with a trick or treat event, swapping sweets for food.

“These are very, very generous donations,” Mr Levitt said. There had also been donations from former users.

He said tinned meat, pasta, UHT milk and tinned vegetables were staples and that donations could be made at the Baptist Church between 10am and 2pm on Mondays and Thursdays. There was also a collection point at Tesco in Huntingdon which attracted a Tesco bonus.

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