SHOCKING statistics have shown that demand for Thornbury’s Foodbank has more than trebled compared to last year.
The food service, which makes food available to individuals and families in the community who may be struggling to put food on the table, has seen a rise in the first 18 weeks of 2017, compared to 2016, with an increase of 250 per cent.
Last year the foodbank, which runs out of Thornbury Baptist Church, distributed 25 food vouchers, which equates to 41 adults and 18 children.
Since New Year, however, they have given out an additional 64 vouchers – meaning 94 more adults and 57 children have needed help.
Volunteer Mair Vaughan, who runs the service in Thornbury, said she believed one of the main reason for the increase was due to benefit changes.
She said: “About this time last year, numbers were quite low and, at the time, we could not understand why.
“We knew about the impending changes to benefits and that it would have a considerable effect, but it being to this level this is quite surprising.”
The Trussell Trust, which runs 400 foodbanks across the country, supported this view earlier in the year when it published statistics that suggested foodbanks in areas of full Universal Credit rollout have seen an increase.
Universal Credit is a benefit for people of working age on a low income or out of work, replacing a number of benefits including Jobseeker’s Allowance, the employment and support allowance and housing benefit.
The research showed a 16.85 per cent average increase in referrals for emergency food, more than double the national average of 6.64 per cent.
The scheme is currently being rolled out across South Gloucestershire in stages.
Ms Vaughan continued: “When we formed four years ago, there were a lot of people who criticised our being here, with Thornbury being such an affluent area, they said we were not needed.
“But the amount of people we have had to help over that time has proven the need to keep running the food bank.
“They aren’t large numbers compared to other food banks, but every extra person that needs our help is another person to be concerned about.”
She praised the people of Thornbury for their continual generosity to support the scheme, especially young people who have collected around the festive season.
Back in October, brothers Connor and Lewis Tucker, who both attend Christ the King Primary School, donated an incredible 18 boxes of food, which they collected from residents while trick or treating for Halloween.
Then over Christmas, fellow Christ the King pupil Rosie Bell donated almost 45kg of food, collected in a ‘reverse advent calendar’.
She added: “While we would love to be able to close the Thornbury Food bank because it is not needed, sadly that is not the case.
“The unfortunate reality we are facing is that we are getting busier, and we are needing donations now more than ever.”
For more information on the Thornbury Foodbank, email email@example.com or call 01454 419118.