Demand for help surges at Yarmouth Foodbank
2017: Great Yarmouth Foodbank sees massive increase in demand over the last year, and ongoing problems with Universal Credit are believed to be the main cause.
Launched in 2014, the Foodbank, run by volunteers and supported by the borough council, is a partnership between three local churches: Great Yarmouth Salvation Army, Gorleston Baptist Church and St Mary Magdalene Church, Gorleston.
The independently-run Great Yarmouth FoodBank has seen a big spike in those seeking help since the new Universal Credit benefits system was rolled out across the borough. Last month over 1,000 food parcels were handed out to those in need, ten times as many as this time last year. The Great Yarmouth Food Bank has written to the Department for Work and Pensions to express their concerns.
Liz Townson, a trustee at the foodbank, said they were over-stretched and in desperate need of food donations and volunteers. “We are having to buy food whereas normally we had enough from the community bringing it in” she said. “It has been a difficult time. The changes have cost us no end of trouble.”
The Foodbank has now been reformed as FoodBank Plus as they aim to do more than just supply food. Before giving out food, the volunteers talk to people about their circumstances, to see how they can best help.
Yarmouth Foodbank started in 2014 in response to growing numbers of people coming to the church asking for help who were not in the category of receiving benefits but were in the crisis relief category. These were families and single people struggling to buy food and other essentials. For people on low incomes, a sudden crisis can mean going hungry. For example, redundancy, fleeing ones home because of domestic violence, benefit claim delays, perhaps because of difficulties with form-filling, unexpected bills etc
Demand has grown steadily, with nearly 3000 boxes of food given out in the first three years, over 5000 in 2016, and now just in this year so far over 7000. Benefit delays and changes remain the biggest causes of foodbank use, accounting for 42 percent of all referrals.
Great Yarmouth Foodbank is staffed by volunteers, and would love to hear from anyone interested in volunteering or donating food or funds.
Visit https://www.greatyarmouthfoodbank.co.uk and Facebook.
Some of this story has appeared on EDP24.
The images above show the foodbank volunteers receiving a gift of a food mixer, and foodbank collections at Asda.
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