THORNBURY'S food bank is providing 125 meals every week as it marks its first anniversary.

Demand for the service was high within weeks of opening last summer and by Christmas the volunteers running the operation from the town's Baptist church were helping more than 100 families a week.

Many had experienced some form of crisis in their lives,from benefit changes and delays to domestic violence, unemployment, sickness and homelessness.

Vivienne Larkin, one of the volunteer team, said: "Unfortunately the need for the food bank is not diminishing. Over the last six months we have seen an increase of approximately 37 per cent in vouchers issued and food distributed.

"It would be greatly appreciated to see a commensurate increase maintained in food donations and giving to meet this growing need.

"With the UK recession officially over, we hope the upturn in the country’s economic situation will mean there is no further need for the food bank's existence.

"That will indeed be the time to celebrate, but in the interim period, we can make a difference in some people’s lives if we all pull together and do our bit to help.

"We do hear many heart-rending cases but there are also successes. One lady promised to come back and support us when her problems had been solved and she did so."

She praised the helpers who gave up their time to sort, pack and distribute the parcels, as well as listening to clients, trying to help them and referring them to organisations able to give guidance and support.

Mrs Larkin said: "We are greatly reliant on the generosity of the people of Thornbury and the surrounding areas, without who we would not be able to operate.

"A big thank-you goes to all those in the community who regularly and generously donate food - eight tonnes in the past year."

Schools and other community premises are also used as drop-off points.

Thornbury and Yate MP Steve Webb recently visited the food bank to see it in action, meet volunteers and hear about the reasons behind people needing help

He said: "I’m grateful to the committed local people who help to run the local food banks in Thornbury and Yate. I believe food banks play an important role in meeting urgent need but we also need to tackle the underlying reasons why people are in such need.

"I am working within government to make sure the administration of the benefit system is streamlined to try to reduce gaps in benefit and I am also happy to support any constituent personally if they are experiencing problems.”