Foodbank usage increasing as pandemic continues

Foodbank usage is rising across the region as the ongoing coronavirus pandemic heaps more financial pressure on people.

Paul Burns, an officer at homeless charity Housing First, at Good Shepherd Wolverhampton
Paul Burns, an officer at homeless charity Housing First, at Good Shepherd Wolverhampton

Centres in the Black Country and Staffordshire are receiving more calls for help due to unemployment and difficulties paying bills.

The foodbanks have been described as "life saving" by those who rely on them, while staff members and volunteers have thanked the general public for donations.

Amid the onset of a third national lockdown, the Good Shepherd Ministry [GSM], in Wolverhampton, has handed out more meals to vulnerable people compared with lockdowns one and two.

During the first two weeks of the latest lockdown, 960 meals have been served to 318 people.

In comparison , 934 meals were served to 325 people during that same period in the second lockdown [November to December], while 860 were served to 240 people in the first [March to July].

Tom Hayden, head of operations at GSM, said: "The longer that this pandemic continues, the more likely it is that more people will become affected by the economic effects, and find themselves in need of help with food and our other services.

"On early evidence, the figures show that we are seeing a slight increase from the last lockdown in the numbers accessing our food service, which is particularly noticeable, as in previous years January has often been a quieter month for the Good Shepherd."

Cannock District Foodbank saw a 34 per cent rise in people accessing its services, in the five months up to lockdown two in November, compared with the same period in 2019.

A total of 2,719 people, consisting of 1,698 adults and 1,021 children, were fed between July 1 and November 30.

The foodbank is headquartered at Coniston Hall, in the Chadsmoor area of Cannock, and has eight distribution centres across the region.

Adam Tilsley, project manager at the foodbank, said: "The main concern as we continue to move through lockdown is the rising demand and the hardship being caused because the pandemic."

At Black Country Food Bank, headquartered in Brierley Hill, around 305,000 meals have been served between March and September.

Although the Albion Street-based foodbank has no data for lockdown three, its chief executive Jen Coleman said: "The numbers have started to increase over the last week.

"We are taking more phone calls from those with Covid, those self-isolating and those in financial difficulty due to the effects of Covid."

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