Volunteers at a Bassetlaw foodbank have thanked the community for their generosity after a record year.
The foodbank, which operates from Lowtown Street in Worksop, gave out 1284 food parcels to desperate people last year, and expect that number to rise in 2019.
The foodbank, which has branches in Worksop and Retford, has seen a 30 per cent increase in the amount of food parcels being handed out in 2018, compared to 2017.
Like many foodbanks, secretary Morag Turner has stated that the introduction of Universal Credit is the main reason why the Bassetlaw branch has seen a sharp rise of users over the last year.
She said: “The number [of users] keeps rising, but the community has been fantastic.
“We want to thank the whole of Bassetlaw, we had to go and empty the donation boxes in supermarkets everyday in the run up to Christmas.”
Although the foobank received plenty of generous donations over the festive period, they still need supplies to keep them running all through the year.
One of the biggest donations came from the travelling community, who donated three trolleys, packed with food just before Christmas.
Morag said one of the biggest worries at the foodbank is that they will run out of food to give out.
She added: “We’re safe for now, but we do worry about not having enough food to make up parcels.
“We are concerned about the number of users increasing as Universal Credit rolls out to families.
“With the wait time to receive Universal Credit, people need to borrow money, and they end up in debt, then when they receive their benefits , the money is used to pay the debt off, so it’s a double whammy.
She added that it is not just families on benefits that need the help of a foodbank.
“Zero hours contracts don’t help, lots of people we see are working, but have had their hours cut, or been made redundant.”
Morag added that when the foodbank first started in 2013, the staff and volunteers never expected to still be here six years later.
She said: “We though we would be here temporarily, but the number of users has just increased every year.”
Although the foodbank have enough stock for now, it does not last long, and donations die down after Easter, meaning the foodbank struggles in Autumn.
It is not just Bassetlaw that sees people struggle to make ends meet.
Figures released by The Trussell Trust, Britain’s biggest foodbank, reveal there was a 49 per cent surge in demand at its food banks last December compared to the rest of the year.
Christmas and winter time is when the number of food parcels handed out to struggling families reaches its peak, with volunteers nationally expecting to dish out 1.5 million meals to families.
The Trussell Trust has called for urgent changes to universal credit after revealing that it gave out more than 650,000 food parcels in six months last year– a year-on-year increase of 13 percent.
Emma Revie, Trussell’s chief executive said: “The only way to stop even more people being forced to food banks this winter will be to pause all new claims to universal credit, until funding is in place to reduce the five-week wait.
The biggest single reason for food bank referrals between April and September 2018 was the failure of benefit payments to cover essentials, while benefit changes accounted for 17 per cent of referrals.
Morag added that here in Bassetlaw, the volunteers have heard some ‘desperate’ cases over the festive period.
She added: “It wouldn’t surprise me if parents were going without for their children.
“We have seen cases where people starve themselves to be able to feed their pets.”
If you wish to donate to the foodbank, they are in need of whole milk, sugar, soap, tinned fruit and vegetables, jam, cereals and squash.