VIDEO: Mansfield Woodhouse foodbank ‘bursting’

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Volunteers at a foodbank that is fit to bursting are hoping to spread the word so more food can be handed out.

The Sherwood Forest service is based at the Stable Centre on Mansfield Woodhouse’s Church Street, and since opening earlier this year have dished out nearly three tonnes of groceries and toiletries to those most in need.

Sherwood Forest food bank organisers from left, Ruth Greaves, Ann Mendham and Gloria Townsend in their store cupboard at the Stables Centre in Mansfield Woodhouse.

Sherwood Forest food bank organisers from left, Ruth Greaves, Ann Mendham and Gloria Townsend in their store cupboard at the Stables Centre in Mansfield Woodhouse.

But nearly five tonnes of food, from tins to tea, toothpaste, toilet paper and even pet food is still waiting to be distributed.

“We are struggling for room, and we feel like we could be helping more people,” said Ann Mendham, who is one of up to 25 volunteers working the service.

“We want that message to go out that we are here, I think people don’t know about us.

“It’s a sad situation that we’re in that people need to look to us. People do not need to go hungry.”

Because of the delicate state of the economy, more people are turning to foodbanks in times of austerity and hundreds of similar services have sprung up across the country to help ease the situation.

Sherwood Forest Foodbank was set up in April through the Trussell Trust community projects scheme, and items have flooded in from churches, schools, the general public and supermarkets, who have supplied more than 3.3 tonnes alone this year.

Statistics show that the Mansfield Woodhouse service has fed over 300 people so far, including 108 children.

Most people are between 25 and 64, with the largest percentage are left desperate by changes to their benefits or benefit delays, although low income work is another major problem.

Ann continued: “The people we get coming here are not necessarily the people you’d expect. It’s more likely to more people in work, and they can be any age.

“It’s totally non-judgmental, and these people are often destitute.

“It’s easy to be judgmental, but we are not and that’s the prime message we need to make.

“We’ve had men cry and apologetic for coming to us and saying they can’t thank us enough.

“It’s a last resort for some people, but this is why we are here.”

Open on Mondays and Thursdays from 1.30pm and 4pm, people are not simply able to walk off the street and receive bags of food, they require vouchers that can be picked up from various schools, the local Citizens Advice Bureau, churches in the parish and even the Mansfield District Council Civic Centre.

Depending on their needs, food is weighed out into bags which cater for single people living on their own up to families of five. At the top end, they can receive up to eight bags of groceries.

They are given enough to make meals for three days, and the items included depends on their dietary requirements, tastes or needs.

However, because it is regarded only as a temporary measure, people are usually only allowed three visits, although each case is looked at individually and on its merits.

While more food continues to pour in, the volunteers spend time organising the items into use-by-date order to ensure nothing goes to waste. If food does pass its date, it is then donated to feed local livestock.

The need for people to use the service looks set to increase as more is to be collected in over the coming weeks with collections organised at Tesco on both Oak Tree Lane and Chesterfield Road on the weekend of 30th November, and another at Forest Town’s Asda on 4th December.

And with the supermarkets generously supplying their own food, it appears that more food will need to be handed out to make room.