The amount of local people turning to the Grantham Foodbank for emergency food supplies has surged since April.
Local figures released reveal that there has been a massive 32 per cent increase in the amount of people receiving emergency food parcels in the last six months, compared to the same period last year.
Foodbank co-ordinator Brian Hanbury, who has managed the foodbank since it opened six years ago under the auspices of Churches Together and in association with the Trussell Trust, warned that the foodbank will struggle to meet the increase in demand if it continues to increase at a similar rate.
The charity, which provided 24,000 meals to the local area last year, expanded into new premises on Greyfriars two years ago.
Brian said: “Since April, 1,331 people in crisis visited the foodbank, compared to 1,007 last year. These figures mean that the amount of local children supported has increased by a massive 39 per cent from 286 children this time last year to 397 children.”
Worryingly, this figure is still growing.
Single parents have also been hit hard as well as support for people aged over 65 years old.
Brian added: “The growth of single parent support has increased by 114 per cent and alarmingly support for over 65-year-olds has also grown by 50 per cent.”
Brian thinks it is only a matter of time before these figures increase even further as universal credit, which was rolled out in Grantham last month, starts to have an impact on local families.
He added: “Single couple intervention have grown by 107 per cent. This might be as a result of single support universal credit which was rolled out in town last year. This looks like people are having to share resources to get by. We have seen delays of support from anything between six weeks to 13 weeks during which people have very little support for themselves. My biggest fear is that we will be looking at similar figures for families over the next six months.
“We are only just experiencing the effects of changes in family situations. This shows in the figures of increased support to children. Families receive up to five times the amount of food as singles. Therefore our limited quantity of food and most importantly finances, will not stretch as far as needed if the impending wave of deprivation heading in theirs and ours direction hits as predicted.”
According to Brian, this might be sooner than expected.
He added: “The second half of the year is busier and I am estimating that we would have supported over 3,000 people by next April, which is 600 more interventions than last year.”
It is a situation that is being reflected nationwide.
The UK’s biggest food bank network, Trussell Trust, said demand for its parcels in areas where full service universal credit is in operation has increased by an average of 30 per cent since April, compared with 12 per cent in sample areas not yet covered by the new benefit system.
Grantham Foodbank, which also supplies quality used clothes and household essentials to clients, costs £32,000 a year to run and relies on funding as well as food donations to continue.
Brian added: “Our biggest issue is the running costs. Everything we deliver has a delivery at source cost of £1 per meal. This includes heating, lighting, rent, the computer centre and clothing and advice. We will continue to work hard but if the money doesn’t come in, then we cannot continue.”
Jonathan Beech, employee relations lead for Grantham Job Centre, said: “We continue to refer people to Grantham Foodbank regularly, but these people are claiming the full range of benefits. Universal Credit has not increased the figure. Claimants can apply for an advance when they make a claim for Universal Credit and we promote this. We work closely with the foodbank and value the support it provides for local people in need.”
To find out more about how you or your business or organisation can help, visit: www.granthamfoodbank.org.uk