How food banks in Kirklees have become a symbol of 2020

Food banks have become one of the symbols of 2020 as the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic left families struggling to make ends meet.

Monday, 28th December 2020, 8:00 am

North Kirklees has seen an increase in the number of food banks being set up as people have found they need help with the basics.

The Humanity First Food Bank in Mirfield was set up in response to the first lockdown in March and now has a town centre shop.

Spokesman Arif Ahmad said the support of the community had been fantastic.

From the left, Idris Yousaf, Qumar Uddin and Arif Ahmad at Humanity First food bank, Mirfield.

“Everybody has been very, very generous especially as we came towards Christmas,” he said.

“As well as food and basic supplies we had a toy appeal and we also wanted chocolates and biscuits just so we could give people a little treat at this time of year.”

Arif said the food bank was reaching many families as more people got to know about it.

Based in a shop in the former Vale Cinema complex in Huddersfield Road, people call in all the time.

But over the Christmas period volunteers plan to go out into the community to help those who are harder to reach.

“There may be a stigma attached to coming to a food bank for some people so we will go to them,” said Arif.

“If people are struggling over Christmas we want to reach out and help.”

Volunteers will go out across Mirfield, Ravensthorpe, Liversedge and beyond.

Cleckheaton Food Bank, meanwhile, also started in direct response to the Covid emergency when Anglicans the Rev Brunel James, Vicar of Cleckheaton, and Josie Pugsley teamed up with Methodists the Rev Ray Borrett (CORRECT SPELLING) and Alan Littlewood.

As the crisis deepened local councillor John Lawson helped secure a council grant and that was boosted by kind donations.

This Christmas the food bank was giving out Christmas hampers and gifts for children.

Donations piled up and there were 150 selection boxes and 160 packets of mince pies!

Volunteers have delivered hot meals and will be delivering oven-ready Christmas dinners on Christmas Eve.

Mr James said: “The team has been overwhelmed by people’s generosity. But the food bank is just a small part of everything that’s been going on in our community.

“Liversedge Football Club are distributing Christmas hampers and local businesses like Colin’s Taxis have been funding children’s gifts.

“Local mums have organised an online Christmas market which has raised thousands of pounds and also set up a ‘Christmas Elves’ group to provide gifts for children.

“I really think that the spirit of Jesus is really showing through this Christmas.”