Cannock food bank sees 23 per cent rise in referrals
"No one should have to go hungry - that's why we are here"- those are the words of Adam Tilsley who oversees the work of Cannock and District Food Bank.
It has nine distribution centres where, with the help of a small army of almost 140 volunteers, thousands of emergency food parcels are distributed to those in need every year.
The food bank, which has been running since 2012, is one of the good causes being supported by the Express & Star's Feed a Family This Christmas appeal.
Volunteers have seen a 23 per cent increase in the number of people being referred to charity's centres in Hednesford, Cannock, Norton Canes, Heath Hayes, Burntwood, Cheslyn Hay, Great Wyrley, Featherstone and Penkridge.
Mr Tilsley said: "At the moment in the area there are lot of people being referred who are on low incomes, they are working but need some extra help.
"We also see people who are on zero hour contracts or have experienced unforeseen circumstances which has led them to be debt.
"We've also had increase in domestic abuse which has led to more people coming to the food bank for help."
Donations to the food bank, which also works with other charities to help people living in Stafford, come from members of the public including churches, schools, businesses and supermarket collections.
Every item is checked and labelled with the best before date to ensure supplies are used in the right order.
Last year a total of 4,111 people were fed thanks to the food bank which provided a total of 36,999 meals during the 12 months.
"We get a lot of support of the community - the food bank is really at the heart of the community. People are very generous with donations and really help out when we are short,"said Mr Tilsley.
As well offering a helping hand, volunteers are also there to lend a listening ear and point people in the right direction for they can get further support.
The food bank also runs a basic cookery, nutrition and budget management course and supports households most in need of help by giving them funds to pay for gas and electricity alongside emergency food aid.
"Our volunteers are fantastic - we would struggle to do what we do without them," said Mr Tilsley.
Volunteer Elizabeth Deans, who helps out at Bourne Methodist Church in Heath Hayes, said: "We see people of all ages. We make them feel welcome, chat to them over a cup of tea. Everyone is very friendly. Sometimes people are embarrassed but there is no need to be."
To find out more or offer help see facebook.com/CannockDistrictfoodbank where there is also information about current food shortages.
Feed a Family This Christmas
The Feed a Family This Christmas appeal is also supporting the Black Country Food Bank, which has centres across Dudley, Sandwell and Walsall, The Well (Home of Wolverhampton Food Bank) and the Good Shepherd Ministry, based in Wolverhampton.
Chocolate selection boxes will be passed on to the Haven refuge which provides both practical and emotional support services to women and children who are affected by domestic violence and homelessness.
Donations have already started flooding in for the appeal including a generous gift of more than 2,660 items from Lichfield Food Bank.
Our campaign is running until December 15 and we are asking for donations of festive food, such as mince pies, chocolates and Christmas puddings as well as store cupboard essentials like canned goods, long-life milk, fruit juice, pasta and rice.
Donations can be taken to:
- E&S Wolverhampton head office: 51-53 Queen Street, Wolverhampton
- Waitrose Wolverhampton, Marston Road, Wolverhampton
- Morrisons supermarket, Black Country Route, Bilston
- Saddlers Shopping Centre, Park Street, Walsall
- Sainsburys, Reedswood Way, Walsall
- Tesco Extra, New Square, West Bromwich
- Tesco Superstore, Heath Way, Cannock