BARROW Foodbank is preparing for a busy half term and Christmas period after a scheme which would have given eligible school children a free meal outside of term time failed to be extended.

England footballer Marcus Rashford’s campaign to extend free school meals across the October half-term and Christmas holidays was voted down by 322 MPs - including Conservative Barrow and Furness MP Simon Fell and Copeland's MP Trudy Harrison.

Earlier this year Barrow Council became one of the first authorities in the country to declare a poverty emergency.

And, according to analysis conducted by The End Child Poverty coalition, child poverty has risen in Barrow over the last four years.

In Barrow, the number of children in low-income families rose from 3,505 in 2014-15 to 3,647 last year.

Barrow Foodbank has seen a surge of donations from the community who are rallying together, which will help towards filling empty stomach’s.

The organisation is asking people with large donations to book appointments to ensure that supporters are not stuck facing the outdoor elements as volunteers weigh in the donations.

Jayne Moorby, communications officer for Barrow Foodbank said: “The outpouring of community support we’re experiencing is wonderful, but nothing less than we expect from the warm communities of Barrow, Dalton, Ulverston and Millom, as we always receive huge generosity and kindness.

“Any families facing difficulties through half term next week can contact us for support on 01229 343436 whether they have received a schools voucher or not.

“We work closely with other local agencies and we can signpost people to support for dealing with any issues they are facing, so we urge anyone struggling to give us a call confidentially.”

The coronavirus pandemic has caused many people to face financial hardships due to loss of jobs, furlough wages and the sad passing of family members.

It is expected that the demand for the Foodbank will continue to rise in the half-term holiday and beyond.

She said: “The Covid pandemic created a spike in need in March and April with a 280% uplift in demand. This has now levelled off but we’re very conscious that it is going to be a hard winter for many.

“We are always very busy at Christmas, but expect it will be even busier this year.

"Once again we will be distributing Christmas hampers and are now accepting donations of food for these hampers."