Food banks in North Kirklees see surge in demand for support as winter approaches

Food banks in North Kirklees are appealing for donations to help them meet an increasing demand for their services as winter approaches.

Friday, 8th October 2021, 7:00 am
Volunteers at Cleckheaton Food Bank

The team at Cleckheaton Food Bank is reporting that between 20-30 families are getting in touch every week for help, as concerns rise over the withdrawal of the £20 Universal Credit uplift and the impact of rising energy bills during the colder months.

Josie Pugsley, of the food bank team, said: “£20 a week is a huge amount to low income families.

“As we head into the colder winter months and fuel prices are increasing, we are expecting to see an increase in clients.

Packing up food parcels at Cleckheaton Food Bank

“It doesn’t take much - a new pair of shoes for the kids, a car repair - to take people from just getting by to needing help. A lot of our clients have children.”

Cleckheaton Food Bank was formed in April 2020 to provide a support network for families struggling during the pandemic.

Based at Cleckheaton Methodist Church, a team of about 30 volunteers perform various different roles, ranging from office admin to food parcel delivery.

“Our priority is to help people in times of crisis while they get themselves settled,” Josie said.

“Our aim is not to create reliance on food banks but for some people that’s easier than others.”

The food bank relies on donations to enable it to continue its work.

Josie said: “We are always looking for support and funding donations.

“When we have a big increase in clients, we quickly burn through our stock.

“We are open 1-2pm on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. We only deliver to people’s home addresses.

“People can pop in and bring bags of donations, which is really great.

“You can also give us money which will only be used to buy food. We also have a Just Giving page to raise funds.

“The other way that people can help us is giving time. We have about 30 volunteers who perform different roles for us.

“We have people who pick up the parcels and deliver them to people’s homes.

“There is a lot of background admin work.

“Our client liaison team takes messages and referrals, and talks to the food bank users about what their needs are.

“We passionately believe here that nobody should go hungry.

“Every week 20-30 families contact us for help.

“For a modern western economy to need such a service is a national shame.”

Batley Food Bank has moved into new premises in the town centre this week as it prepares to help the community through what it believes could be a tough winter ahead.

Manager Anna Russell said: “Now with the colder weather coming and the end of the Universal Credit uplift, we have definitely noticed it get busier, with more demand for food parcels.

“People are concerned about how they will manage over the winter, particularly with fuel prices rising.

“Most people we deal with here are on pre-paid meters which are very difficult to manage on low incomes. The money just does not go as far as it should.”

Anna started working at the food bank the week before the first Covid lockdown in March last year, which she described as a “baptism of fire”.

“It’s been a very challenging period,” she said.

During the pandemic, the food bank team started offering a delivery service, dropping off food parcels at people’s homes.

That is something the team is looking at continuing over the winter months.

Anna said the food bank is always looking for more volunteers.

“If people would like to give their time, we would appreciate that very much,” she said.

“Donations of food are also much appreciated. We are open Monday to Friday, 12-4pm, at our new premises on Wellington Street.”

Collection of donations can also be arranged - visit www.batleyfoodbank.org.uk for more details.