FOODBANK usage in Tameside surged in the build-up to Christmas as more and more people living below the breadline turned to emergency food parcels to feed their families.
Figures released by the Trussell Trust, which supports more than 1,200 centres in the UK, showed a 25 per cent increase in demand at the Tameside East Foodbank in 2019 compared to the previous year.In total, they distributed almost 46 tonnes of food in the last 12 months.
Heather Shepherd, foodbank co-ordinator for Tameside East, said: “From January to December 2019, we provided emergency aid to 5,680 people. Of those, 3,524 were adults and 2,156 were children.
“That’s over 1,000 more referrals than the same period in 2018.
“In the week before Christmas, we saw a spike in the number of people needing our help. In total, we provided emergency food parcels to 245 people, 107 of whom were children.”
Data shows that 30 per cent of all foodbank referrals to Tameside East were as a result of low income, while 19 per cent resulted from delays to benefits payments and a further 17 per cent due to changes in benefits.
Heather continued: “The majority of people that are referred to our centres are in employment, but the heart-breaking truth is that their income is simply not enough to cover their living expenses.
“This falls in line with the overall national trends as reported by the Trussell Trust and demonstrates that many people are forced to use a foodbank despite being in work.
“In the past, there has been a certain stigma attached to those that need the assistance of a foodbank but in the last few years we have started to notice a change in attitudes.
“We had the biggest public response over the festive period that we’ve ever had at Tameside East since our network of centres opened in 2012 and we are very grateful to everybody who donated.”
In addition to providing emergency food parcels for those in need, the centre offers a signposting service to help those who have fallen on hard times get their lives back on track.
And in a new initiative for 2020, the Tameside East Foodbank is launching a cooking course that aims to help people improve their understanding of food and increase their confidence in cooking.
Heather said: “We are running this four-week course to help people feel more confident about cooking the food we provide at the foodbank and learn new recipes and techniques.
“The course also provides useful information about understanding food labels, meal planning and batch cooking.
“It has been designed using only foodbank parcel contents and minimal equipment.
“Many of our clients describe limited cooking facilities as a barrier they are currently facing and so our course covers this and can be adapted to meet people’s specific needs.”
If you would like more information on this cooking course, or if you would like to donate to the Tameside East Foodbank, email: firstname.lastname@example.org