Food Bank volunteers reveal need for parcels in Bassetlaw is higher than ever

Volunteer, Morag Turner at work in the Lowtown Street food bank.
Volunteer, Morag Turner at work in the Lowtown Street food bank.

When Bassetlaw Food Bank opened in Worksop in 2013, it was only meant to be a temporary measure- so why are emergency food parcels needed now more than ever?

When I arrive at the Lowtown Street based charity, a three day ration for one adult is already laid out in the stockroom waiting to be packed.

A three day ration of food for one adult.

A three day ration of food for one adult.

The tinned vegetables and travel toothbrushes have a wartime feel about them, and it’s hard to believe that in 2016 people are relying on these parcels to eat, keep clean and generally survive.

In 2013, 539 parcels were distributed to struggling individuals and families across the Bassetlaw district- this year it is predicted the total will rise to more than 1,000.

A couple named Morag and Alan Turner only volunteer one day a week at the Food Bank, but they have their fair share of heartbreaking stories to tell.

“People have come in here asking for food after fires, burglaries and deaths have left them with absolutely nothing,” said Morag.

“A lot of them have worked hard their entire lives, and are so embarrased to be here they are often on the verge of tears.

“I try to tell them that is an emergency food supply, available for any Bassetlaw resident in need. But they are always so ashamed, even if it’s not their fault.

“Benefits change, the price of fuel goes up and up, people are made redundant,” Morag goes on. “This morning, a man came in who had lost his job suddenly and had just £4 left.”

Alan added: “The problem is it takes such a long time to get out of poverty these days. A lot of benefits have merged into Universal Credit, which people are having trouble with.

“One sanction, for whatever reason, can cause a hiccup. Investigations into circumstances take six to eight weeks.

“Even people who manage to find employment again quickly can find themselves on zero hour contracts. The situations are just endless but one thing is for sure- the need for food parcels is creeping up.”

But a rise in need for emergency supplies has thankfully been paired with a rise in support from the Bassetlaw community, said the couple.

More than 25 schools in the district, along with churches and other community groups, held “Harvest” events over the summer which saw food donations pour in.

Local Muslim charity, Eaton Hall, recently donated a cheque of £2,400 and the charity also receives small grants from Bassetlaw District Council.

95 volunteers currently work across the two Bassetlaw Food Bank sites, located in Worksop and Retford.

It seems Bassetlaw Food Bank is able to support the community, simply because the charity itself is supported by it.

But with no Government funding in the pipeline, action plans are already being put in place for what is set to be another tough year.

Morag said: “Around the New Year, donations tend to dwindle. Donations rise in Christmas because people are at their most charitable, which is great.

“But come January, they are struggling too. We’d encourage anyone who would like to donate to the Food Bank to continue this into the New Year.”

For more information on Bassetlaw Food Bank, call 01909 486770 or visit www.facebook.com/bassetlaw.foodbank.

WHAT AND HOW TO DONATE:

Bassetlaw Food Bank is keen to receive any non-perishable food items and toiletries, but are currently short of:

UHT cartons of Milk;

Tinned Meat;

Jam;

Sauces for pasta or rice;

Biscuits, chocolate and sweets;

Packets or rice;

Shower gel;

Toothpaste;

Feminine hygiene items;

Shampoo and consitioner.

Donations can be dropped off at Bassetlaw Food Bank locations on Lowtown Street, Worksop and on Exchange Street, Retford, between 10am and 2pm, Monday-Friday.

Donation points have also been set up at The Crossing Church and Cafe on Newcastle Avenue, Worksop and in the Ambassador Rooms in the Masonic Hall on Pottert Street, Worksop.

Collection boxes are situated at The Nottingham Building Society and Sainsbury’s in Worksop along with Brown and Co in Retford and the Co-op in Langold.

PICTURE CAPTIONS:

NWGU-16-12-16: A three day ration for one adult.

nwgu bassetlaw food ban(2)~1: It is expected the number of food parcels distributed this year will rise to more than 1,000.

nwgu bassetlaw food ban(3)~1: Morag and Alan Turner volunteer one day a week, but say they have encountered “countless” people in need.

nwgu bassetlaw food bank as~1: Morag packs a food parcel.