TODAY the Daily Echo is calling on people to support those in need over the summer as we launch our campaign: Boost the Bank, sponsored by Company Shop.

Thousands of people rely on Southampton City Mission's network of food banks - but it desperately needs support over the summer as donations drop and demand surges.

That is why we have partnered with the charity and are urging those who can to donate at any of the 14 drop-off points across the city.

The charity - which fed nearly 15,600 people last year - has seen many more people using their Basics Bank food banks in the last few months.

Volunteers have also seen a drop in donations and are running out of many important items.

Daily Echo:

In a period of high demand due to the cost of living crisis, we are encouraging our readers to donate to the food banks to help the most vulnerable.

The number of people wanting the network's help has grown by hundreds compared with this time last year.

In May this year some 412 more people sought help than in May 2021. And April saw 327 more people than in April 2021.

Vicky McKillen, manager of the food bank, said: "People are now feeling the pinch of the cost of living crisis.

"There has been an increase in users, even more than in Covid. It is quite scary, really.

"We are run on by a referral system - people are referred to us by an agency or a charity to use the food bank.

"Not having enough food is usually a symptom not a cause of what's going on. There are debt management issues, mental health problems.

"There is always a drop in donations in the summer, but it is worse than what we have seen before.

“People were very generous during Covid. People saw the need for it. But people who may have donated in the past are feeling the pinch now.

"This time last year we had a stock of stuff. But at the Shirley food bank last week it looked like they had been robbed. There was no food whatsoever.”

One 39-year-old mum-of-five, whose youngest children are three, nine and 13, told the Echo she uses the food bank after losing her home.

The woman, who did not want to be named, said: “Our landlady died of Covid, and the bank took back the house, so we are now homeless. We are in temporary accommodation and trying to find somewhere to live.

"Having no permanent address means it’s harder to find employment.

“Things come up, like new school shoes. Their shoes are falling apart. White shirts never stay white. I make sure at least at school they are presentable.

"My partner and I have been taking it in turns to eat meals.

“If it wasn’t for places like this, I don’t know what we would do.”

Tony Jordan, 76, a volunteer of ten years at the Lord's Hill Church venue, said: “We are supposed to be the sixth richest country in the world and we are having people go to a food bank to be fed.

“The cost of everything is rising. It doesn’t touch the rich people; they are insulated by their wealth. People who have nothing, people who have debt for whatever reasonable reason, people who have addictions, see life through a whole different set of glasses.

“We don’t just provide food anymore – we provide things for pets, women’s sanitary products, washing up products, laundry liquid.

“It is satisfying work. When life has been cruel, you can feel so utterly alone.”

There are five Basics Banks run by the charity in Southampton, each open once a day from 10am to 3pm:

  • Monday – Central Baptist Church, city centre
  • Tuesday – St Mary's Church, Sholing
  • Wednesday – The Old Chemist, Bitterne
  • Thursday – Shirley Baptist Church
  • Friday – Lord's Hill Church

Daily Echo:

Supermarkets with designated food collection points:

  • Asda, The Marlands
  • Lidl, Nursling
  • Lidl, Shirley
  • Nisa Local, Maybush
  • Little Waitrose, John Lewis
  • Sainsbury's, Bitterne
  • Sainsbury's, Hedge End
  • Sainsbury's, Lordshill
  • Sainsbury's, Portswood
  • The Co-Op, Sholing
  • Sainsbury's, Shirley
  • Natwest, Bitterne
  • The Co-Op, Archers Road
  • The Co-Op, Mayflower Halls

These are the out-of-stock items urgently needed:

  • Tinned hot mean (curry, pies, stew)
  • Tinned cold meat (ham, spam)
  • Cook-in sauces (jars and packets)
  • Coffee
  • Tinned fruit
  • Custard
  • Jams and spreads
  • Hot chocolate
  • Tinned rice pudding
  • Tinned veg

For up-to-date information, visit: and

Over the next few months, the Echo will be supporting City Mission.

One of our reporters has already volunteered at one of the charity's food bank, and we will be covering more on the charity's efforts throughout the campaign.

The Southern Daily Echo's Editor, Ben Fishwick, said: "Times are exceptionally hard for people at the moment and at the Echo we've done all we can to support people through offers and money-saving tips in our Your Money Matters campaign - now we are asking for our readers' support in helping the most vulnerable.

"Giving anything to City Mission has the potential to make a real difference to the lives of people in Southampton, and I hope anyone who sees a donation point will stop and donate if they can."

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