MORE and more desperate families are turning to Devizes Foodbank to feed their children amid fears the poverty crisis will worsen as winter approaches.

Devizes Foodbank manager Liz Starling said:“It’s a real concern that in only six months we’ve provided 569 emergency supplies to local people.

"These figures don’t even cover our busiest time of year - as the colder weather draws in, we often find more people needing our help."

She said that the number of parcels being given out were 2.89 per cent up on the same period last year and 168 boxes went to children.

Among those using the foodbank are mothers forced to ask for handouts as the only way of feeding their children.

Foodbank workers say these women have often tried going without themselves rather than asking for help but eventually had to swallow their pride.

One person who eventually asked for help had spent a week eeking out a bag of oven chips rather than admit they were in need.

Mrs Starling said: “It’s not right that anyone in Devizes and the surrounding area is being forced to turn to our foodbank. Our volunteers offer vital support when it matters most, but they should not need to.

"We want to see an end to local people needing emergency food – with a benefits system that catches people before they fall into crisis, and secure work that provides people with enough money to cover the cost of essentials, we could reach that future.

"We’re determined to make sure that until that time comes, emergency help is here for people, but there needs to be some long-term change because we don’t want to be here forever.”

The worst time for families is when schools are closed as then children who are eligible for free school meals do not get this vital food.

Christmas which is looked forward to by most can therefore be a desperate time as parents try and make it special but often feel they are failing.

The foodbank has just started its Christmas food collections and over the next couple of weeks particularly wants Advent calendars ready for children to be able to start opening them from December 1 like other youngsters.

Devizes Foodbank shares the concerns of other foodbanks in The Trussell Trust’s network about the Government’s new benefits system, Universal Credit. The foodbank has needed to give emergency food and support to people who are waiting weeks for a first Universal Credit payment.

The foodbank is particularly in need of tinned ham, tinned salmon and tinned/long life sponge puddings. Toiletries such as tooth paste and shower gel are particularly wanted.

The charity has asked for festive donations to be donated in early December at the latest, to ensure volunteers have enough time to process and distribute these donations to people before Christmas.

The running costs for the foodbank based at Devizes Community Hospital are around £17,000 a year, all of which is raised locally.

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