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Friday, 19 September 2014

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South Cumbria foodbanks see user numbers quadruple

THE number of people being fed by foodbanks has quadrupled within a year.

The Trussell Trust foodbanks in Barrow, Ulverston and Millom now attract up to 430 people a month – up from 125 people when the first bank opened last year.

Project manager of the local network, Ann Mills, 64, said: “We have had an upward trend and have actually seen the number using us nearly quadruple since December.

“In our area, we have some of the most deprived wards in Cumbria so it’s not a surprise so many are relying on us.”

Mrs Mills said the government’s welfare reforms were a “big contributor” to the increase, with many needing emergency rations due to benefit payments being delayed by up to six weeks.

She said: “The bedroom tax and the sanctions on benefits are a huge cause of this.

“We see a lot of large families finding it difficult to cope. Often it’s people in work but their wages just don’t cover the cost of living.

“If they have an unexpected bill like a broken boiler then that can have a big impact.”

The foodbanks see people on a referral-only basis, with agencies including social services and the mental health charity, Mind, assessing people beforehand.

One voucher entitles a person to food for 10 meals – enough to last them three days.

The Barrow branch opened at Abbey Road Baptist Church last July, with branches following in Ulverston and Millom due to high demand from outside the town.

Mrs Mills said the trust was coping with demand so far due to large public donations and agreements with local supermarkets.

However, she said she was uncertain when the upward trend would stop.

She said: “Unfortunately I haven’t got a crystal ball so I don’t know how long this will go on for or if it will continue to rise. We are taking things one day at a time. It will be a wonderful day when we say we can close due to no demand, but I honestly can’t see that happening in the immediate future.”

She said volunteers were bracing themselves for another big increase during the winter months as utility bills rise.

Nationally, the Trussell Trust has said the number of people needing emergency food aid has trebled in the last year.

Between April and June 2013, 150,000 depended on food aid with the charity.

Have your say

I think this trend is going to be the new 'normal' going forward, our sovereign debt's (1.2 Trillion) are escalating at a truly frightening speed and the so called austerity measures have not even started, we as a country are well and truly in the mire.

Posted by William Wooleyback on 15 July 2013 at 20:56

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