A FOOD bank manager calling for more government help has raised serious concerns as food bank demand spikes.
The boss of Christchurch Food Bank told the Daily Echo she has families in the facility crying, and said some are now facing turning their electricity off for half the week in order to survive rising prices.
This comes as neighbouring New Forest Citizens Advice has just seen one of its busiest week’s ever with people calling in for help with their food and fuel bills.
Christchurch Foodbank Plus helped tens of thousands of people during the pandemic and have now opened a new site as demand is set to increase further due to the cost of living crisis.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has been widely criticised for not doing enough to help those most severely impacted by the cost of living crisis during his spring statement last week.
He has defended his measures, saying it would have been “irresponsible” for the Government to have borrowed more to raise benefits in the face of rising inflation.
READ MORE: Christchurch Foodbank Plus celebrates opening of their new site
Speaking about the crisis, foodbank manager Tracy Blick said: “I have so many concerns because we do a lot of training with financial support services and there is no end in sight.
“There’s no solution, other than the government stepping in and giving a pot that we can dip into which I can’t see is going to happen.”
Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis said last week he was virtually out of tools to help people.
Tracy said: “I had a family last week who have made the decision to trip their trip on a Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, so they will have no electric for those three days.
“They’ve decided they won’t use electric for 50 per cent of the week because their bill has increased by nearly 50 per cent.
“The government aren’t putting Universal Credit or benefits up to help them, that’s staying the same and yet their utilities and petrol are increasing weekly at the moment, so for them it’s so desperate, we have families in here crying.”
Everyone that comes to the food bank has been referred by other agencies for help, such as the council and local charities.
The food bank is experiencing an increase in referrals and also a need for a wider range of services due to the cost of living crisis.
Alongside providing food they also have the following services available, including: furniture bank, community supper, cookery workshops, hardship fund, homeless drop-in, homeless/rough sleeper assistance, school holiday hunger, community money advice and meal in a bag.
Speaking about how they fund these services, Tracy said: “We get our funding from local trusts, the government doesn’t fund us anything.
“So now we’re trying to fight for BCP Council, when they get funding, to give Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole each a third, that we can use for fuel and utilities.”
The centre recently put out an appeal for help putting together energy saving packs for visitors who are struggling.
These packs, along with help and advice, will include: energy saving light bulbs, rolls of tin foil, new hot water bottles and a sheet with tips on how to reduce/save energy.
To donate food and other items visit: http://faithworkswessex.org.uk/our-services/food-banks/