MORE than 4,000 people in the Stroud district have had to turn to foodbanks to feed themselves and their families over the past year.
Foodbank project manager for the district Will Mansell has spoken out about the hidden problems of hunger in an area perceived to be affluent by national standards.
Since starting up just eight weeks ago, the Nailsworth Foodbank has supported 47 households in the area, helping those most in need to put food on the table.
The Nailsworth Foodbank is the latest addition to the Stroud District Foodbank umbrella which also includes centres in Stroud, Stonehouse, Dursley and Wotton-under-Edge.
The combined number of people in those areas who have sought help during the financial year between 2013 and 2014 is 4,239 adults and children .
Mr Mansell said people have been forced to approach Foodbanks for several reasons.
These include late payments of benefits and the rise of general living costs not being matched by a rise in many people’s wages.
“Nailsworth is a largely affluent area with nice houses and residents on high incomes,” said Mr Mansell. “However there are clusters in small communities who struggle without anybody realising.”
With many unaware of the problems facing Nailsworth’s poor, the Foodbank has a difficult job in motivating people to help by donating food to the drop-off points.
“We have got a responsibility to look after our fellow human beings,” said Mr Mansell.
“ There are a huge number of people who cannot afford food, and we need to provide for each other.”
He said people were initially shocked to learn of the need for Nailsworth donations.”
“But once I explain it to them they are happy to help.” he said.
People in desperate need are referred to Foodbanks by job centres, doctors and the Citizens Advice Bureau.
They usually receive a voucher for three days emergency food collected from drop-off-points where food has been donated.
Stroud MP Neil Carmichael who is a suppporter of Foodbank’s said that despite the increase in the need for people to use them, the area is generally moving in a positive direction: “Foodbank is a great short term help that allows people to go from a bad situation to a better one.
“As the government has reduced unemployment by 30 percent, people now have the ability to come through a difficult time into work” he said. Mr Mansell urged people to help out and make donations to Foodbanks in their area. Donations of long-life food can be left outside The Coventry building society on Fountain Street, Nailsworth, with UHT milk currently in high demand.