Festive fears for shortfalls at foodbank

Salvation Army Community Centre Co-ordinator, Claire Bowerman, at the Preston food bank.
Salvation Army Community Centre Co-ordinator, Claire Bowerman, at the Preston food bank.

Staff at Preston’s busiest foodbank are “scared” they may not be able to feed the city’s hungry this Christmas.

The Salvation Army looks to be heading for a record year with changes to the benefit system leaving more people in need this festive season than ever before.

The news comes after new figures showed the North West is now providing more emergency food parcels than any other region in the UK – and even the whole of Scotland.

“It’s rather scary for Christmas,” said Capt Alex Cadogan at the charity’s distribution centre in Harrington Street. “We are hoping and praying enough donations of food and gifts and toys will come in. The need is great, but the omens are not looking good.”

At the weekend the number of referrals to the Salvation Army in Preston totalled almost 380. That figure is certain to grow as Christmas gets closer.

“It’s sad, but its a fact of life, people in our society are finding themselves in very difficult situations at the moment,” said Capt Cadogan. “We always expect an increase at thios time of year because a lot of families find things very difficult.

“But at the last count we’d had 377 referrals and it’s only the beginning of December. It’s a little bit terrifying if you think about it.”

Figures from the UK’s biggest foodbank provider, the Trussell Trust, which runs 428 across Britain, showed more than 87,000 emergency food supplies were handed out in the North West between April and September. Scotland provided almost 77,000 and London nearly 59,000.

The biggest cause was problems with benefits – 24.75 per cent late payments and 17.9 per cent changes to the system. In areas where there has been full rollout of Universal Credit, demand has increased 30 per cent.