Food banks are a lifeline for families

Throughout Wakefield and the Five Towns an army of volunteers have been collecting, packing and distributing food each week to help in the fight against food poverty.

By Julie Marshall
Wednesday, 15th December 2021, 5:27 pm
Updated Wednesday, 15th December 2021, 5:28 pm
Wellbeing Services Manager Sheena Ibbotson at the food bank at St Georges Community Centre  Picture Scott Merrylees
Wellbeing Services Manager Sheena Ibbotson at the food bank at St Georges Community Centre Picture Scott Merrylees

Demand for food banks has been steadily increasing across the district as people, many of them in full-time employment, have been forced to seek help to feed themselves and their children.

To supplement this, other charitable organisations have been running seasonal campaigns, including Chantry Rotary Club which collected enough food to provide 800 Christmas hampers.

And school’s have been asking pupils to bring in food to make up parcels.

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Sheena Ibbotson from St George’s food bank in Wakefield said: “We are supporting approximately 20 different families and individuals a week with food parcels. We try to give them enough food for seven days, this comprises of a basics box and extras depending on what donations and our delivery from fareshare brings us.”

Working in partnership with St George’s Church the ten volunteers also run a ‘drop in session’ on a Tuesday lunchtime that provides a warm place to sit and have something to eat.

Sheena added: “The individuals and families who use our foodbank say it is a lifeline. “One comment, which is typical of the sort of thing we hear, was ‘I’ve been struggling with my benefits, St George’s have supported me and my family with food on more than one occasion. It’s been so helpful.’”

The Trussell Trust, which supports a network of food banks around the county said more than 5,100 emergency food parcels were provided for people every day from April until September by food banks in its network - 2,000 of these were for children

That’s at least three parcels given every minute and is an 11 per cent increase compared to the same period in 2019. The need for emergency food remains well above pre-pandemic levels.

While the figures highlight the level of need across the UK, the charity warns its figures do not include the number of people helped by the countless new community organisations, independent food banks and local authorities, which have stepped up during the pandemic to support their communities.

Knottingley Foodbank, part of the Trussell Trust’s network, helped 1280 local people in Knottingley and surrounding areas between April and the first week in December. Of these 71 adults and 509 children were fed.

Adele Palfreyman, foodbank Manager of Knottingley Foodbank said: “We know what a difficult time this is for many people in Knottingley and surrounding areas.

“If you are struggling to afford the basics, we will do everything we can to provide support.”

Tim Weeks of The [email protected] Community Project in Castleford which is open from 6.30-7.30pm on Friday evenings said: “Numbers have increased quite dramatically as we are getting into winter.

“We are seeing more families and we also work with singles and couples so won’t turn anyone away.

“We are also planning to help families by delivering a Christmas hamper that has been allocated by social workers and schools the week before Christmas.”

Tim said the project was supporting around 250 people a month via referrals.

He said that if anyone does walk in they won’t be turned away but will be given emergency help and advised where they can go for a referral and for extra support.