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Demand is rising at area’s foodbank

PUBLISHED: 07:00 21 January 2016

Project Manager for East Suffolk Foodbank Philip Riley in the Lowestoft store.

Project Manager for East Suffolk Foodbank Philip Riley in the Lowestoft store.

Archant © 2012

Thousands of families and individuals in crisis have been supported as part of a foodbank’s “busiest year yet”.

THE FUTURE?

Looking to the future, Mr Riley said that they would “need to find bigger warehouses” to cope with the “enormous amount” of food.

“We will be trying to offer more support in advance over the year, as we try to get people out of the crises they are in,” Mr Riley said. “Our figures show that 48 per cent of the people who come to us, only access our services once – so we will be looking to try and divert people more and more to a way out of the crisis.”

East Suffolk Foodbank - based at Gunton Baptist Church and run in partnership with neighbouring churches - said it had seen a major increase in demand since last April, with a 60 per cent rise in the number of family boxes going out on the previous year.

In the six months prior to that, the charity - which is part of the Trussell Trust network - had given out 76 family boxes.

“Since April (2015) we have given out more than 130 – so you can see the increase in family boxes we’ve distributed,” said Phil Riley, project manager at the East Suffolk Foodbank.

“That is our biggest concern – as families are coming to us more than they ever used to.

“And with the changes in legislation in the pipeline for next April, families could be even more worse hit – particularly with the child tax benefits and cap on benefits.”

The foodbank - which covers drop-ins in Lowestoft, Beccles, Halesworth and Kessingland with support also offered in rural areas in Aldeburgh, Leiston, Saxmundham, Sole Bay and Framlingham - helped more than 5,000 people in 2015, but had been well-supported by the public, Mr Riley said.

“We have been blessed by a very generous public who have donated more than 40 tonnes over the last 12 months,” he said. “That is an enormous amount. I think people are more aware of foodbanks now, and more and more people know people who have used the foodbank.”

Mr Riley said this was a 30 per cent increase on the previous year – when 29 to 30 tonnes had been donated. “That is quite a substantial number,” he admitted.

He also paid tribute to the foodbank’s “small army” of 350 volunteers.

■ Are you doing something for charity? Email mark.boggis@archant.co.uk


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