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Rising number of families turn to west Dorset food bank
A RISING number of families are turning to a west Dorset food bank as they struggle to afford to eat.
The Rev Andrew Evans’ Cupboard Love appeal was launched 18 months ago to give practical help to the homeless and struggling families.
But he has warned that it is needed more than ever after a surge in applications for help over Christmas and as the new year begins – with up to 80 families now in need of help.
It follows revelations by the Echo that hundreds of families, many middle-class working households, were being forced to turn to food banks in Weymouth to make ends meet. The Rev Evans, who is the rector of Bridport, said: “We have been helping people right through the year but the need is not diminishing – it’s growing. There’s a real need.”
He said that thanks were due to all who have donated items but there are people in need all year around.
“I do want to say a huge thank you for the generosity people have already shown.
“We are still getting anonymous donations through the door, some for as much as £100.”
In partnership with Waitrose volunteers spent two weekends recently outside the store and collected 15 tubs of food to give away.
Through the local Munch Club, schools and a network of people in the church between 70 and 80 families struggling to survive have been identified and given food.
The Rev Evans, of St Mary’s Church in South Street, said: “The numbers have been increasing recently. What we are finding is it is not so much the folks out of work on benefits who need help.
“It is the people working on minimum wage who are struggling with the increase in price of food, petrol and heating. They are being squeezed tight. Experience suggests it is these people who are finding it hard to cope.”
He said they did their best to make sure those getting help thought of it as that and not charity. Every effort was made to give discreetly, he said.
He said: “There should not be any stigma. Everybody hits hard times in their life occasionally and we are here to help.”
During the year the homeless turning up at the church have also been given tents, sleeping bags, food, shoes and clothing.
There have been around 25 ‘doorstep callers’ helped during the year. The Rev Evans said that although the informal network that alerts Cupboard Love to people in need works well, it was always possible to ring the church on 01308 424747 or come in and ask for help.
People Struggle To Buy Basics
CAPTAIN Ray Slater, pictured, from the Salvation Army in west Dorset said the number of families in need – even for basic food – was really increasing.
He said: “We are talking about the basics: food.
“We have seen an increased need and it has been like that for the last year, even longer, both decreased donations and increased need.”
The Salvation Army’s primary fundraising is through its charity shops and people are just hanging on to things longer, he said He added: “Nobody is giving up their old sofa now until they have to.
“So when we talk about decreasing donations there are lots of reasons for it.
“I don’t want to appear to be saying that people are less generous because I don’t think that’s true.
“The pinch is hitting everybody and cascading down.”
He said the Salvation Army worked closely with housing associations and often found people in need when the associations sent in liaison officers when rent wasn’t being paid.
He added: “If someone is not paying their rent the associations send someone in to find out why and help them budget and they discover they are not only not paying the rent they don’t have any food either.
“Our ability to engage with the social needs of the area is directly related to the generosity of people here.”