VOLUNTEERS at Thornbury Foodbank have thanked the community for their help following a huge rise in referrals.

Referrals to the charity facility at Thornbury Baptist Church rocketed by nearly 70 per cent last year.

With hundreds of people using the service last year, the food bank is reliant on donations.

In the run-up to Christmas 1.25 tonnes of food and more than £1,000 cash was provided.

Lead volunteer Rod McLellan said: “This is an amazing response by the community to a continuing need to put food on the table for those in crisis.

“The festive season is a time when the public shows particular generosity towards those who we help.

“I think a lot of people do have a social conscious. They realise they are going to have a good time at Christmas and there are other people who are not.

“A lot of the donations we get are unsolicited.”

Rod believes the continued roll out of Universal Credit and delays to beneifits has played a part in the rise in food bank use, but was not solely responsible.

Relationship breakdowns or ‘a bit of bad luck’ could also lead to people being forced to use the food bank,” he said.

“A lot of people who come have complex issues. It’s not just benefits.

“We are just there to help people without judgement.

“We have been busier over the last year. With the support of local people, and with our dedicated team of volunteers, we are confident we can carry on meeting these needs during the coming year.

“We don’t want to be there but we are,” he said.

Anyone wishing to help should bring donations to Thornbury Baptist Church.

The church can be contacted on 01454 419118.