VOLUNTEERS at Stratford Foodbank are bracing themselves for a busy Christmas.
The charity has seen an increase in demand of nearly 20 per cent this year, distributing an average of 253 parcels a month.
Food parcel donations have seen a spike during Christmas time in previous years and the team is expecting to distribute even more this year.
Foodbank manager Marion Homer said: “Historically we see a regrettable rise around Christmas. In December 2018 we distributed a total of 294 parcels, 117 of which went to children. If the 19 per cent year on year rise is seen this December too it means foodbank volunteers could be distributing over 340 parcels this month – so we are, reluctantly, bracing ourselves for a busy few weeks.
“Christmas is supposed to be a time of joy and celebration – but for too many people it’s becoming harder and harder to keep their heads above water – food banks like ours cannot and should not have to continue to pick up the pieces.”
Since the foodbank was set up in 2013, the number of parcels has risen from around 1,000 parcels in its first year to nearly 2,300.
The Universal Credit system – which has seen different financial support combined to form one single payment – has been blamed by many for reducing and delaying payments.
And the charity is calling on the new government to end the five week wait for Universal Credit, ensure benefit payments cover living costs and invest in emergency support for people in crisis.
For those struggling this Christmas the foodbank will continue to run as normal throughout the month.
Marion added: “Usually clients are referred to us through referral agencies, such as Citizens Advice and Stratford District Council. However, we are aware that many of our referral partners will be closed through the Christmas holidays and it may be difficult to get a voucher. If anyone finds themselves in that situation they should email [email protected] or call 07884 418732 and we will direct them to one of our distribution sessions.”
Stratford Foodbank, based in a cabin in Tesco car park, is open Monday 5pm to 6.30pm, Tuesday midday to 2pm, Thursday 5pm to 6.30pm and Friday midday to 2pm.
Visit stratforduponavon.foodbank.org.uk for further details.