Express & Star

Feed a Family: Charity seeing level of demand increasing as crisis bites

As energy prices continue to rocket and food prices hit highs not seen for years, services are beginning to feel the pinch as demand for help increases.

Good Shepherd chief executive Tom Hayden chips in helping in the kitchen with volunteers Elsie Hawthorne and Pam Smith

The cost of living crisis has seen more people than ever reach out to food banks and other services for help as they start to struggle to find enough money to pay for electricity bills and food.

The Good Shepherd, in Wolverhampton, has worked for more than 50 years to support homeless people and people in need across the city, providing hot food and food parcels, as well as support around housing, finances and mental health.

Now, as the colder months begin to get closer, CEO Tom Hayden said there had already been a big increase in people coming to the service in the past few months and spoke about how the Good Shepherd was trying to help them.

Feed a Family:

He said: "Unfortunately, we've been saying this for a while, even before this crisis started, that people have really been struggling in the city, with a 10 per cent increase in families and new people coming to us, which was a worry.

"However, over the last two weeks, we've noticed a big increase in people coming for food advice and basic support, so we've been working with the local authority on this as this has been a huge priority for them.

"They're looking at resources in the household support fund and we're just doing our best to meet people's needs, with many worried about the knock-on effects of homelessness and the impact on mental health at a difficult time."

Mr Hayden said he had seen more people from the privately rented sector coming to Good Shepherd for help, with many struggling to make sure they could afford food and utility costs, while others were looking for help with fuel vouchers.

He said the Good Shepherd had had to make its own changes to cope with rises, including seeing utility costs to run the service double, and said it was going to be a tough time for the service.

"We're kind of having to estimate how much it's going to cost to buy in wholesale for food to do, and seeing an increase in what we can do with food deliveries.

"Luckily, we're really well supported by the general public and the local authority, who are looking at how we can increase our resources, but we've seen a huge increase in demand.

"There's also been a hit in people's ability to donate and support us with food and finances and that has been decreasing, so it's almost a perfect storm for charities.

"I would say that if people are really struggling, we can help by directing them to other services and our own support, and if people can support us financially or with food, then fantastic, but please get help if you do need it."