Festive plea for help on Devizes and Marlborough food bank crisis

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Paul McDonald of funeral directors John Stuart and Alan Beamish from the Food Bank                             (pm 923) by paul Morris Paul McDonald of funeral directors John Stuart and Alan Beamish from the Food Bank (pm 923) by paul Morris

Companies across the area are setting up collection points for donations to Devizes and Marlborough Food Bank as it faces unprecedented demand in the run-up to Christmas.

Food Bank manager Alan Beamish said the charity had helped 600 families and 450 single people this year, double last year’s number.

“The demand is unprecedented. The main reason for the increase has been cuts to benefits or delays in receiving benefits. If you are accepted for benefit it can take up to three months for it to be paid,” he said.

John Stuart Funeral Services are now collecting food at their new branch in The Brittox, Devizes.

Paul McDonald, of John Stuart, said: “We know there are people out there struggling to make ends meet, and the importance of having a resource such as Devizes Food Bank in the area has never been greater, especially in the winter months.

“We appreciate that money is often tight in the run-up to Christmas, but we are hoping that when people purchase an item on a ‘buy one, get one free’ promotion, they are kind enough to share it with someone less fortunate and donate the free item to our appeal.

“We hope that the people of Devizes will come together at this time to support such a vital cause.”

Devizes Food Bank, which started in 2007, also covers Marlborough. Following a referral by an agency such as the Citizens Advice Bureau, local churches or support agencies, those in need are given a voucher and can redeem it for three days of emergency food.

Tesco stores in Devizes and Marlborough have held a collection for the food bank with one and a half tonnes of food collected at Marlborough and half a tonne at Devizes.

Mr Beamish said the charity was grateful to everyone who collects and donates food.

He said: “We have had a lot from churches and schools in harvest festivals and people are very generous.”

Halifax in Maryport Street, Devizes, is also collecting food for the food bank from Monday to December 23.

It is the first time it has collected for the food bank and customer service consultant Rachel Foster said: “Everybody in the branch agreed to support the food bank.

“It is a very good charity to support.”

The food bank is in desperate need of tinned food, dried food like rice and pasta, sauces in jars, instant mash, UHT milk, sugar, tea and coffee, and biscuits and snack bars. Other donations of non-perishable food are welcome, and toiletries, including nappies, are also in short supply.

Any items donated need to have a good ‘best before’ date and be in sealed, undamaged packaging.

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