VOLUNTEERS at a foodbank in Malmesbury are gearing up for a busy Christmas as the number of people needing help to feed their family continues to rise.
National statistics from foodbank charity the Trussell Trust showing that more than 900,000 people have received emergency handouts in the past 12 months.
Malmesbury and District Foodbank has reported an increase in demand for its help, despite the area being relatively affluent.
The foodbank based in Malmesbury’s United Reformed Church serves an area which also includes Minety, Hullavington and Great Somerford and Little Somerford, and manager Richard Doddridge said many residents relied on the service in tough times.
“I thought I was reasonably switched on to the reality of people’s lives but if you look at some areas, even in Malmesbury, there are people who live in difficult circumstances with zero hour contracts or people who have had their benefits changed.” he said.
“This week we’re producing food packages for families, probably close to 30 people we are feeding each week, but that may be an understatement. We might need more volunteers and we might consider opening another day of the week.”
The team of 25 volunteers spend around 10 minutes packing each food parcel, where they have to decide on items from their stock, weigh them and then put them in boxes for families or for local churches to distribute.
Malmesbury’s foodbank only opened in September, so volunteers were hesitant to predict demand in the New Year, but did say they were thankful for all the donations received from various harvest festivals as it has put them in a good position ahead of Christmas.
Esther Hamill, a volunteer at the foodbank, said: “People are sometimes reluctant to come in because they see us in the street and worry we will tell other people but that’s just not going to happen. People have to know that it is totally confidential.
“I love being here just because it’s a useful thing to do and I’m able to help. We don’t just pack boxes and hand them out – we get to comfort people and give them some support.”
The foodbank is open Mondays from 10.30am to noon and Thursdays from 1.30pm to 5pm. See malm esburydistrict.foodbank.org.uk
Authors: Wilts & Glos Standard