Foodbanks see a rise in struggling families

Letchworth Foodbank

Letchworth Foodbank - Credit: Archant

MORE people than ever in Comet country are turning to charities for help, after struggling to afford food.

Both Stevenage and Letchworth GC foodbanks say they have seen an increase in demand.

Vouchers are distributed to families through local citizens advice bureaus.

Marian Hurle, Stevenage CAB bureau director, told the Comet: “The number has risen steeply since the beginning of the year. The foodbank has only been open since December and is a great help to clients.

“There is a genuine need and we need people to donate to food bins around the town to meet demand. It’s a dire situation but we are supportive of food banks.”

Mrs Hurle said some of the reasons for the increase in demand was down to benefit changes, redundancy and homelessness.

“We began to see the changes in the middle of January, when bills start to come in after Christmas,” she added.

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Cllr Sharon Taylor, who has volunteered with the charity since Christmas, echoed those comments.

“We currently have 20 families which come to us each week, they get given enough food to last them for three or four days,” she said.

“We have definitely seen an increase and I don’t know what they would have done without it. It is terrible that we have to have this service but it is great that we are able to support people over a difficult period in their lives. I know it is not only valuable, it is essential.”

The Letchworth GC equivalent has also reported an increase in people calling for help. The foodbank – which serves the people of the town as well as neighbouring areas including Hitchin – has provided 2.8 tons of food to 374 adults and children since its launch in October.

Letchworth GC foodbank treasurer Brian Attwood said: “We are seeing an increase, and there is a need for the foodbank in Letchworth, and from what we have seen there are a number of people who are struggling.”

Of the 2.8 tons given out, 32 per cent of the food has gone to people referred by schools. People referred by the Letchworth CAB and Job Centre have received 23 per cent of that total.

For more information on Letchworth GC Foodbank call Brian Attwood on 07580 184586. Email John Mead for information on the Stevenage Foodbank.