Ashfield Foodbank sees rise in demand over summer holidays

Yvonne Hudson, with her donation to the foodbank.
Yvonne Hudson, with her donation to the foodbank.

A foodbank in Ashfield are appealing for donations to feed hungry children over the summer holidays.

Ashfield Voluntary Action (AVA) Emergency Foodbank see a spike in demand for their services during the summer break, as families struggle to feed their children without school meals.

Sarah Taylor, who runs the foodbank in Ashfield Health and Wellbeing Centre said that they anticipate the rise in demand every year, and even appeal for baby and infant food which are frequently requested.

She says that demand has been increasing steadily over the past few years, and it is worse now that it ever has been.

Sarah said: "We request additional donations before the summer holidays every year, and the problem seems to be getting worse. Universal credit is going to cause problems when that comes in, as peoples payments will be delayed."

"When people access our services, we ask them what factors have caused them to need a foodbank, and sometimes it is an unanticipated event such as a job loss, but the vast majority is down to benefit delays or low income. A lot of our users are sadly homeless, and we get people from all walks of life coming to us.

"One case that really tugged at our heartstrings was a man well into his 80s who came to us when his pension was stopped by accident because he couldn't feed his dog."

Sarah says that the perception of foodbank users that the general public have is wrong.

She said: "The perception of what people are like that use a foodbank couldn't be more wrong, we see people from all walks of life. People who have medical issues that have left them unable to work, or who are on zero hour contracts use our services."

The foodbank, which sees up to six people a day, is for emergency use when other foodbanks are closed.

Sarah said: "We rely on local donations, as we are here for anybody in Nottinghamshire that needs an emergency food parcel. It's sad that we carry a stock of baby food and toiletries, but families do need those."

MP Ben Bradley said: "Food banks provide an incredibly valuable service, and I would like to pay tribute to the hardworking volunteers involved. I have been to visit local foodbanks and had the opportunity to speak to service users directly.

"Food poverty is a serious issue. It is vital that the Government helps with the cost of living. In addition to measures to help keep food prices down, the Government’s economic plan has seen unemployment fall, record numbers in work and now pay cheques are rising faster than inflation.

"The creation of a National Living Wage has given two and a half million people a direct pay rise. The welfare system supports millions of people who are on low incomes or unemployed, but I believe that the surest route out of poverty is work.

Gloria De Piero, Ashfield MP said: ‘I want to give a huge thanks to the volunteers at Ashfield Voluntary Action, and to urge everyone to donate what they can. However, foodbanks really shouldn’t be necessary in the fifth richest country in the world.

"Wages here in Ashfield are below both the national and regional average, and those averages are lower now than they were ten years ago.

"The Trussell Trust last year saw a 13% increase in use of their emergency food distributions, including to nearly half a million children. Over over four million children are now living in poverty, and over the summer holidays many families are feeling the squeeze. Ashfield needs a government that will tackle low wages and particularly child poverty.

"The next Labour government will make this a priority, introducing a Living Wage, 30 hours free childcare for all 2-4 years olds, and a social security system that supports parents rather than penalises them.’

At the moment, the foodbank are particularly in need of:

Meat products such as tinned meatballs and hot dogs

Sugar

UHT milk, both full-fat and semi-skimmed

Squash

Pasta

If you need to access the foodbank, or know someone who does, AVA do prefer referrals from Citizen's Advice, DWP or health visitors, but they do accept drop-ins.

All they ask is that you provide a letter that says your benefits have been delayed, or that you are otherwise in need of the foodbank.

Contact Sarah Taylor on 01623 555 551 or email s.taylor@ashfieldvoluntaryaction.org.uk

Donations are accepted at Ashfield Health and Wellbeing Centre, Miller Suite, Portland Street, Kirkby-in-Ashfield NG17 7AE.

AVA's Facebook page has further information, please click here