Thornbury foodbank's Christmas meal cheer

MORE than 30 people relied on Thornbury's foodbank for their Christmas meal, with nearly 300 kilos of food distributed to those in need.

The service has only been running for six months but has proved a lifeline to families who suddenly find they can't afford basic foodstuffs.

Volunteers supply pre-packed food parcels on Fridays from the town's Baptist Church to those referred to it by organisations and services such as schools, GP surgeries, Age UK and councils.

Each parcel contains enough to produce meals for three days for each household, with people able to be helped up to three times.

Use of the service has increased since it started, with the last session before Christmas seeing 31 people receiving a total of 296 kilos of food to see them through Christmas.

On top of items such as soup, cereal, pasta, bread and tea, the volunteers also added some festive treats, including mince pies and Christmas pudding.

With no sign of demand falling, the team now expects to be even busier in 2014.

But people in the town have been generous with their donations of food to pass on to others.

At the end of November, two days of collecting took place at the Thornbury Tesco, which led to a "phenominal" response despite coming just after the Philippines typhoon and the Children in Need Appeal.

Vivienne Larkin, a member of the foodbank, said: "People are lovely. As well as making donations at the collections, they also just turn up at the Baptist Church with food to give us.

"But at the moment we are giving out more than we are collecting. There's definitely no let up in demand and if we get a really cold snap, there will be even greater demand.

"The foodbank is a temporary solution but helps gets people back on their feet. It also provides the psychological effect that someone cares."

Most people who use the service have to ask for help due to cuts in their benefits. Others have fallen on hard times after being made redundant, suffering illness or have found their wages just don't stretch far enough,

The foodbank will next be open on Friday, January 3, from 2pm-4pm.

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