“WE are hoping for the best but preparing for the worst,” – that was the message of the Barrow foodbank boss as south Cumbria braces itself for the launch of Universal Credit today.

And in a bid to make sure no person in Barrow, Furness, Ulverston or Millom goes hungry this winter The Mail is launching its “Feed our Foodbank” campaign.

To fulfil this dream we need help from The Mail readers.

The Mail in conjunction with the foodbank is trying to build up its food stores to 35 tonnes of food by the end of January.

So far there is 17 tonnes waiting to be distributed.

It has been no secret demand on the foodbank in south Cumbria has soared in the last 12 months.

According to Barrow foodbank’s project manager Ann Mills, volunteers give out six and a half tonnes of food every month and as Universal Credit gets rolled out today they expect a 31 per cent increase in demand.

Mrs Mills said: “Since The Mail reported on our shortage of food, the communities of Barrow, Ulverston and Millom have risen to the challenge and we have had nine tonnes of food donated.

“Their kindness and generosity is so humbling.

“These donations place us on a sounder footing in the weeks to come but it is still not enough .

“On average we are giving out more than six tonnes of food per month.

“Barrow, Ulverston and Millom is bracing itself for the benefit changes.

“But we have a message – we are hoping for the best for preparing for the worst.

“We are thrilled The Mail has chosen to support the foodbanks.

“This campaign will enable us to increase our food stocks and make sure no-one goes hungry this winter.”

We are asking readers to purchase two extra cans in their weekly shop and donate them to the foodbank.

Donations can be made directly to the foodbank or dropped off at The Mail office in Abbey Road.

Mrs Mills said: “We do know that people are going to fall through the net when the universal credit rolls out, so we are hoping for the best but planning for the worst.

“We have just done a national Tesco collection.

“This brought in a total of three tonnes of food in which Tesco Extra provided 5,022 meals, Tesco’s Flass Lane store in Roose provided 2,996 meals and Tesco Millom provided 2,260 meals.

“We would like to say thank you to all the volunteers who gave of their time, especially to the students of Furness Academy who gave time to help us, and for John Woodcock’s support and for every member of the public who donated food to us.”

The campaign has gained the support of the Barrow and Furness MP.

Vanessa Sims, The Mail editor said: “Making sure no one goes hungry this winter is something The Mail is passionately behind.

“Making a donation no matter how big or small can make a huge difference.

“This is a call to all schools, businesses and individuals to back our campaign let’s make sure no one falls through the gap.”

In Parliament the MP for Barrow and Furness John Woodcock called on the government to postpone the roll-out of Universal Credit in Barrow amid fears that some claimants might be driven into hardship.

Ministers pressed on with their plans but they agreed to put in place Mr Woodcock’s subsequent appeal for extra support to be made available.

Backing the ‘Feed our Foodbank campaign, Mr Woodcock said: “Big concerns remain about the impact the roll-out of this benefit will have in Barrow as we approach Christmas, but obtaining help for vulnerable people to get an advance payment has provided some relief.

“But those advances will need to be repaid over the next 12 months and that situation holds the potential to create hardship further down the line.

“While these conditions prevail there will be a demand for foodbanks and our community is grateful to the brilliant volunteers who help out.”