Families in Worcestershire explained that their local food bank was all that separated them from starvation.
Desperate residents said that once they paid their bills they had “nothing” to buy food.
The Worcester Food Bank has revealed how it had experienced its busiest time during the pandemic – but was now preparing to welcome even more families to its door as bills are expected to soar this winter.
READ MORE: Food Banks Help More Families As Gas Crisis Worsens
Located in bustling Lowesmoor Wharf on the edge of the city center, the food bank occupies an entire warehouse.
It is only open three hours a day on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and over the past 12 months it has provided food to more than 10,000 people.
The service is on track to have its busiest year since its inception in 2012. Officials said September was their fourth busiest month since opening and by the end of 2021 they should have helped the most. of people ever.
They appealed for donations, claiming that “the incoming food did not match the outgoing food.”
WorcestershireLive visited the food bank on a Monday morning and spoke to the people who run it and also its customers – the people who depend on it.
Food bank manager Graham Lucas said they helped 925 people in September – far more than the other months of this year.
He said it was a “perfect storm” of events that had pushed people to the point of crisis.
“People are often surprised that Worcester needs a food bank because it is a city located in a thriving rural area,” he said.
“But there are pockets of urban deprivation in Worcester and that’s where most of our clients come from.
“September was especially busy for us as it was the perfect pandemic storm, the end of holidays, the end of the increase in universal credit, the rise in inflation and the energy bills starting to rise.
“Any of these things could push a family into poverty – but all together meant that many were now in crisis.”
When WorcestershireLive was there we saw vans drop off food donations and other vans driven by volunteers go out to buy food to put in the parcels.
At the reception desk, there was a constant stream of people waiting for their bags of food. You can’t just show up and use the service, you need to be referred by various organizations including the Citizens Advice Bureau, doctors, schools, social workers, or churches.
Among those who used the food bank was Clive Dayus, 64, of Warndon, Worcester.
He was full of praise for the service – saying he kept the wolf out of the door.
“I have been here many times and the staff are wonderful and are so nice and pleasant, I am not at all ashamed to be here,” he said.
Clive, who has four children and 34 grandchildren, used to have two jobs, but now receives benefits because he takes care of his disabled wife.
“Once all the bills have been paid we are out of money – without the food bank I think we would starve,” he said.
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“I was referred here by the Citizens Advice Bureau because I was living day to day. It was strange coming here at first, but the staff are very welcoming and friendly and don’t make me feel ashamed.”
His daughter, Ann-Marie, 39, who has seven children and also relies on the food bank, has joined Clive.
“I’ve been here four or five times and now that universal credit has been taken away, I honestly have no idea how I’m going to feed my children,” she said.
“I don’t feel good coming here, but what else can I do? By the time I’ve paid for everything, I can’t afford anything else for four weeks.
“When I come back with the bags from the food bank, the kids look like it’s Christmas.”
The Worcester Foodbank is one of six banks in Worcestershire that operate under the Trussell Trust franchise. It was established and operated by All Saints Church in Worcester.
Principal Graham said they were preparing for a busy end to the year.
“As inflation rises and gas and electricity bills land on the doormats, that’s when it will hit families,” he said.
“Last year – due to the pandemic – was our busiest year, but 2021 should beat that because we’re already 22% more than last year at the same time.”
How you can help the Worcester Food Bank
It costs between £ 120,000 and £ 130,000 a year to run the Worcester Foodbank, so donations of all kinds are needed.
Food can be donated via 10 collection points in Worcester (full list on website here).
Financial donations are also needed – either a lump sum or regular withdrawals. Click on here for details on how to do this.