Record numbers turn to Grantham charities for food

Brian Hanbury with Foodbank volunteers June Franklin and Anne-Marie Gregory.
Brian Hanbury with Foodbank volunteers June Franklin and Anne-Marie Gregory.
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ORGANISATIONS such as Grantham Foodbank and Grantham Passage are seeing record numbers of people come through their doors as the economy falters.

Grantham Passage has long been a safety net for Grantham’s most vulnerable people, most often those who are homeless or “sofa surfing” - relying on the help of friends or good samaritans for a temporary roof over their head.

Ruby Stuckey of Grantham Passage said the organisation is dealing with ever-increasing demand. This year the charity, based at Finkin Street Methodist Church, has extended its work, opening seven days a week to be able to help those in most need every day.

She said: “We are definitely seeing more people because of the economic crises and lack of available jobs. Also the changes to the benefit system - if people don’t turn up for an interview or are not seen to be applying for work then they can have their benefits stopped for a couple of weeks which can mean no money and no food.

“We are getting 40 people here per session. In the past it was more like 20 or 25.”

Grantham Foodbank was set up a year ago to help those in temporary crises get back on their feet by providing enough food for three days. They have food parcels to fit different needs from individuals to a family-of-five and beyond.

People who visit the Foodbank in St Catherine’s Road have first been given a voucher from one of around 40 agencies such doctors, health visitors and social workers who assess a person’s need before deciding if they would benefit from short-term help.

Foodbank co-ordinator Brian Hanbury is one of Grantham Foodbank’s founding trustees.

He said: “Grantham has two wards - Harrowby and Earlesfield - in the top 30 most deprived in the country.

“There are between 5,000 and 6,000 people in Grantham living below the poverty line who only need one or two things to go wrong in their life to be in difficulty.

“We are seeing an increase in numbers as word spreads and people know they will be treated with respect when they walk through our doors.”

Over the past year, Grantham Foodbank has supported 1,157 family members - 383 are children - and provided 10,413 meals.

More than 130 volunteers have signed up to help the organisation and Brian estimates the charity has received donations from some 6,000 people, donating 12 tonnes of food in just a year.

Brian said: “The generosity we have seen from the Grantham people has been absolutely immense. We have had 12-tonnes of food come through the door in a year.

“One day we were at Asda collecting and a gentleman came over with a trolly full of food and a carrier bag on the back. We thought he would hand over the carrier bag and leave with the trolley but he said ‘the bag is mine”’and gave us the whole trolley full of food.

“Another gentleman gave a jar full of coins and said ‘turn it into food’. We counted it up and there was £700 in there which, with the help of the supermarkets, we turned into £1,400 worth of food.

“We estimate 6,000 people have donated to the Foodbank in Grantham and it is coming from all walks of life. I’d just like to say a big “well done” to the people of Grantham.”

The Foodbank and Grantham Passage are always in need of donations of food and money to ensure they can continue to help those who need it most.

But despite the district council’s decision not to authorise a “Voluntary Sector Fund”, there is no ill-will towards SKDC.

Brian said: “I will never berate the council. They provided the first £5,000 to get us started and we will always be grateful for that.”