Numbers of people using Wetherby and District Foodbank are expected to rise in the coming year.
Changes to benefits claims are putting increasing pressure on people in the area according to Wetherby Mayor Coun Norma Harrington who is also Chair of Trustees at the scheme.
“We are seeing an increase in claimants awaiting benefit decisions,” said Coun Harrington.
“And with the roll out of Universal Credit in our area next year, we are expecting to see an increase in people coming to us, as has been evident in other areas already.”
Wetherby and District Foodbank was set up as an Outreach Mission by the Methodist Church, but other churches from the town and surrounding villages were called to help with the large project.
The community based foodbank was set up under the umbrella organisation of the Trussell Trust in 2014 and now has six trustees, a Steering Group of 10 and about 80 volunteers.
Coun Harrington said the scheme is already well used from its base at the refurbished Barleyfields Community Centre in Wetherby.
“We have helped more than 449 individuals and families in the year to date, but have helped 1,020 people all together, including children since we opened in October 2014.”
She added: “There has been a steady increase in the numbers of people using the foodbank, partly because people know we are there and are getting more relaxed about coming to us.
“We just want to help, no judgement, no fuss, just coffee and a chat!
“We have assisted single people, single parents, women fleeing domestic violence, working families on low incomes who have had a big bill come in with no money left to feed the family, people who have been made redundant and have never accessed the benefits system before.
“Most of our clients only come once or twice whilst their crisis is resolved, but we have had a few people who have needed longer term support.”
And during holidays extra help is given as Coun Harrington added: “We can help in the holidays with food vouchers for those families who usually get free school meals.”
The scheme heavily relies on donations from local residents which it stores at its warehouse at Thorp Arch.
“We are blessed with donations of goods and services by several local businesses,” added Coun Harrington.
“Volunteers are always welcome and we train all applicants before they start work at the Distribution Centre and the Warehouse.
“We also have volunteers who collect food from the drop off points and take it to the Warehouse on a rota basis as well as people who assist with administration and data inputting and website and social media management.”
Expecting a rise in people using the Foodbank Coun Harrington added: “We need to get the message out that there is help available.
“And we want clients to know that we can also signpost them to other organisations locally who can help resolve issues.”
For those needing help, Wetherby Foodbank is open Tuesday and Friday mornings between 10am and noon.
Vouchers can be obtained from the The One stop Shop, Local Churches, Boston Spa and Wetherby Children’s Centres, Local Police, SVP (St Vincent de Paul Society at the Catholic Church), Margins Bookshop, In2Out, Friends of Sandringham Park, CAB in Harrogate, Social Services departments in Leeds and in an emergency from the Foodbank itself.
Anyone wishing the help the scheme can make donations of dried and tinned foods, tea coffee, hot chocolate, UHT milk, fruit juice, toiletries, nappies, sanitary produce, and toilet rolls at various collecting points around the area, just look out for the green boxes with the logo!
Donations can also be left at churches, some schools, Sainsbury in Wetherby, Tesco in Collingham, Morrisons, Skipton Building Society, the Halifax, The Town Hall and the Fox and Hounds in Walton.
For more information about helping out or getting help contact us on 07840 455 725, firstname.lastname@example.org or at: www.wetherbyanddistrict.foodbank.org.uk