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Hundreds turn to foodbanks in Southampton
HUNDREDS more people are turning to foodbanks in Southampton as they struggle to make ends meet.
Demand at the City Mission foodbank has rocketed, with an increase of almost 50 per cent in the number of people using it in the past 18 months.
Changes to benefits and the continuing economic downturn have been highlighted as reasons for the huge rise in demand, with more and more working families turning to foodbanks for help.
And with demand now at the highest level in the foodbank’s 17-year history, charity bosses have issued a fresh appeal for food to be donated.
The foodbank gives out parcels of food to desperate people who are referred to them by charities, doctors, social workers and benefit offices.
But in recent years there has been a growing trend of people turning to them who are already in work and who approach them directly with pleas for help.
A total of 2,234 people were fed by the City Mission foodbank in the first five months of 2012, but that shot up to 3,254 for the first five months of this year – an increase of 45 per cent.
And staff expect the number of people using the foodbank in 2013 to break the record figure of 6,060 who used it last year.
And the effect is being felt in other parts of Hampshire – the Waterside Foodbank in Blackfield recorded a 20 per cent increase in use in the same period, and Fareham’s Basics Bank has seen its use more than double in two years.
Zac Shaw turned to the Southampton City Mission foodbank when he was out of work for three months and struggling to make ends meet.
He said: “I felt embarrassed and low in spirits having to ask someone for free food, but I was really that desperate. But every person I encountered was so friendly and understanding. It made the whole situation so much easier.”
They provided him with a variety of food, from cereal and bread to soup and hot dogs, as well as providing information on where he could find hot meals for free or as little as £1, such as Central Hall in St Mary’s.
Zac, who lives in the centre of Southampton, added: “Due to the current economic situation I'm sure more and more hard-working, albeit low-paid people are finding themselves in this kind of situation now.”
Duncan House from the City Mission said: “We are seeing large numbers of people who haven’t used us before, people who are from working families or benefit families in particular who are just not making ends meet.”
And with further changes, such as the introduction of Universal Credit, set to be introduced later this year, he says the rise is likely to continue.
If you want to donate to the City Mission foodbank, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 023 8055 0435.
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