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  • Foodbank helpers fear winter crisis

    Henry James

    HELPERS at Skelmersdale and District Foodbank have expressed concern that they have provided nearly 1,000 three-day emergency food supplies to local people between April 1 and September 30 this year with nearly 350 of those going to children.

    And volunteers at the foodbank, a member of the Trussell Trust’s network which has this week reported a UK-wide increase in foodbank use, fear that its help will be needed even more in the coming months as the colder weather draws in.

    The figures are a 6.18% increase on the same period last year and officials at the charity believe the local increase is a result of people struggling with benefit delays and changes including issues with the Government’s controversial rollout of Universal Credit.

    Skelmersdale Foodbank shares the concerns of other foodbanks in The Trussell Trust’s network about the new benefits system.

    The foodbank has been called upon to give emergency food and support to people who are waiting weeks for a first Universal Credit payment and are unable to access support or are receiving payments that don’t even cover the cost of essentials.

    Brenda Lowe, manager of Skelmersdale and District Foodbank, said: “It’s a real concern that in only six months we’ve provided 927emergency supplies to local people.

    “And these figures are not for our busiest time of year - as the colder weather draws in, we often find more people needing our help.

    “It’s not right that anyone in the Skelmersdale area is being forced to turn to our foodbank. Our volunteers offer vital support when it matters most, but they should not need to.

    “We want to see an end to local people needing emergency food. With a benefits system that catches people before they fall into crisis and secure work that provides people with enough money to cover the cost of essentials, we could reach that future.

    “We are determined to make sure that until that time comes, emergency help is here for people, but we don’t want to be here forever.”

    Meanwhile the foodbank is particularly in need of coffee, tinned fruit and vegetables, sponge puddings and long-life fruit juice. And the charity has asked for festive donations to be donated in early December at the latest, to ensure volunteers have enough time to process and distribute them in time for Christmas.

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