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POVERTY SPOTLIGHT: Residents turn to food bank for help
The Weymouth and Portland Food Bank, based at Weymouth Baptist Church, is receiving five times more demand than last year with more than 40 people a week relying on their donations The food bank helps to feed more than 600 people – none of whom is homeless.
The food bank in Dorchester, based in the Dorford Centre, reported that its usage had increased over the last year.
Coordinator Lily Mockett, who runs the Weymouth and Portland food bank with her husband Bob, said they have had up to an extra 40 people a week turning to them for help.
She said: “We have more food going out that we have coming in at the moment.
“We even had to go out and buy stock to refill our shelves, but it has already gone.
“For some unknown reason we have been inundated in recent weeks.”
There are dozens of regular voucher holders who have been referred by GPs, health visitors and teachers.
Clients vary from single parents to large families and from single people to young couples.
It is run by volunteers and kept going by donations from 10 churches.
Mrs Mockett praised the continuing efforts of local churches who continue to donate generously to the bank each week.
She added: “We give a family of two adults and two children four carrier bags full of food.
“We’ve persuaded people that it will be completely confidential. We don’t want our clients to feel embarrassed.”
Charles Crane, chairman of Dorchester Food Bank, said: “The problem we have in Dorchester is that people don’t know we are here.
“We’ve certainly had an increase in usage but we want to help more people.”
Weymouth and Portland Borough Councillor Rachel Rogers said she was ‘disappointed’ to hear that food bank usage had increased so dramatically nationally.
She added: “The picture is the same locally and changes to both in-work and out-of-work benefits coupled with the rising price of food mean that things will only get worse. “Food banks do a fantastic job but it is appalling that so many people are being forced to rely on them. “I was shocked to hear that Weymouth food bank was running short of stock. “I would urge everyone who can spare something to make a donation to the food bank because every little really does help.”
Volunteer outreach worker Angie Barnes said: “Even people who have got jobs and are working all the hours God sends are still struggling.
“Part of the problem Dorset has got is the high cost of living and wages are not in line with this.
“Employment in Weymouth is more of a seasonal thing.”
Help is available
A Weymouth woman, who does not wish to be named, said she struggled to pay for food and relied on help from a local scheme.
She said she wanted people to know there was help available.
She added: “My income has changed and I get a lot less now. I am struggling, so I’ve had to find out about a food bank.
“I went down to the Jobcentre and asked if they had a number and they put me in touch with an emergency local assistance scheme who delivered me a box of food.
“They interviewed me over the phone and the next day delivered a hamper to my home.
“There is help out there and I wouldn’t have got it unless I had asked.”
The struggling resident was put in touch with the Emergency Local Assistance scheme launched on April 2 by Dorset County Council.
It offers small grants for people in a crisis situations which poses an immediate threat to their health and safety.
Grants will take various forms depending on need.
Applications will undergo detailed assessment via a telephone helpline.
For more information visit dorsetforyou.com/emergencygrants
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