Number of Stroud District Food Bank users doubles in last year
THE number of people using Stroud District Food Bank has almost doubled in the space of a year, according to research from The Trussell Trust.
Figures released by the charity show the number of people who used its food bank between April and July 2013 increased by 88 per cent compared to the same four-month period last year.
The sharp rise in the numbers reliant on the food bank is in keeping with countywide trends.
In the three-month period between April 1 and June 30, the number of visitors to the three other food banks run by the Trussell Trust in Gloucestershire soared by an average of 159 per cent when compared to the same period last year.
Cheltenham saw the biggest increase of 319 per cent, while demand jumped by 52 per cent in Gloucester and 106 per cent in the north Cotswolds.
This year in Stroud between the start of April and the end of July, 1,012 individuals received support from the food bank, compared to 538 between April and July 2012.
Will Mansell, project manager at Stroud food bank, said two factors accounted for the rise in people seeking their assistance.
"On the one hand the figures show a steady increase in the number of people that have got into trouble since the new Government welfare reforms in April," he said.
"On the other they show a rise in the reach of the Foodbank and the response from the professional referrers we work with."
Last month one of those referrers – the Stroud and District CAB – said it was having to direct an increasing number of their clients to the food bank because unemployed and disabled people were being wrongly denied their benefits.
Mr Mansell said the rise was also particularly alarming because the Government had instructed Job Centres to stop working with food banks.
"They haven’t given an official reason and didn’t consult with us about it. Before April they were one of our biggest referrers so to lose one of our biggest customers and still see the rise is worrying," he said.
"We are only able to meet this rise in demand because of the dedication of our donors and the churches that support us."
The food bank is currently desperate for money to help meet the cost of running its warehouse.
To make a contribution go to strouddistrict.foodbank.org.uk/get-involvedFood donations can also be dropped-off between 10am and 12.30pm Monday to Friday at the warehouse at Unit 14, Stroud Enterprise Centre, Bath Road, Stroud, GL5 3NL.
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