Bestwood and Bulwell Food Bank has hit back this week following a controversial national news story that saw an undercover reporter securing a food parcel.
A Mail on Sunday reporter, said staff at Nottingham’s Citizen Advice Bureau handed him a food bank voucher which entitled him to three days’ worth of shopping from the foodbankbased at St Philip’s Church, Top Valley.
The story caused a social media storm and prompted people to show their support to food bank schemes up and down the country as well as cash donations and grants to The Trussell Trust, which supports the initiatives.
“This story has totally backfired on The Mail,” said Nigel Webster, manager of the Bestwood and Bulwell Food Bank. “Since people became aware of it food banks up and down the country have received a surge in support and donations.”
Nottingham’s Citizens’ Advice Bureau, which was at the eye of the storm, has also received a boost in donations this week since the story hit the headlines.
The original report claimed that better checks needed to be carried out before vouchers for foodstuffs are handed out. But Mr Webster denied this is the case.
“We are confident that our systems work and because many of our clients arrive in a distressed state we treat them with dignity and don’t question them further as the decision has already been made through the referral system,” explained Mr Webster.
“Unfortunately all systems are subject to abuse but we are confident that our food goes to those who need it most.”
The Bestwood and Bulwell Food Bank fed 3,000 people last year from across the Dispatch district and beyond something that Mr Webster says is a reflection of the poverty and deprivation being suffered across the region.
“Unfortunately food banks are a reflection of the current difficulties faced by many who are suffering benefit issues and also the low pay of many workers across the city who simply can’t afford to make ends meet.”
The food bank is in a better position than before and able to support more families in need after the boost to their supplies.
Nottinghamshire Community Foundation have given a grant of £500 and The Trussell Trust’s Easter campaign received £60,000 in donations on the back of the story.
He added: “We will be speaking with the Trust to decide how best to put the funds to good use.
“But I’m very disappointed that The Mail, and subsequently the Nottingham Post, didn’t focus on the level of deprivation across the area instead.”