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‘This is not the Big Society. It is a humanitarian effort’

Volunteers serve the Mayor of Todmorden councillor Jayne Booth at the Food drop-in at St Mary's Church, Todmorden.

Volunteers serve the Mayor of Todmorden councillor Jayne Booth at the Food drop-in at St Mary's Church, Todmorden.

An upper Calder Valley food bank is seeing the number of people attending continue to increase as the economic climate continues to bite.

Since it opened in June, the Todmorden Food Drop-in has helped a total of 337 individuals and families. Each week it sees new people attend.

Volunteers put together more than 150 food parcels a week, at a cost of about £300.

Janet Garner, of the food drop-in committee, said: “Only a small minority - nine per cent - use the drop-in very regularly.

“These are people in very desperate circumstances for a range of reasons.”

The drop-in interviews people when they attend and records why they need to use the service. This is reviewed on an ongoing basis by a team of specialist volunteers.

In addition, 150 people have been interviewed in greater depth to look at individual circumstances. This information is used to highlight issues of particular need.

Janet said: “Only four per cent of those interviewed have substance abuse issues.

“Forty per cent have physical and mental health problems.

“Fifty-seven per cent exist purely on benefits. The remainder are in work, on a pension or have no income at all.”

Donations of money, food and clothing continue to come in weekly and the drop-in receives support from local shops, churches, organisations and businesses.

It has also received financial support from Todmorden Town Council and local churches.

Canon Owen Page, also of the Todmorden Food Drop-in committee, said there is an overwhelming level of generosity from the local community.

“The generosity shows that community is so strong here,” he said.

“We need to continue to grow. We don’t want the food bank to be a sticking plaster - we want it to meet the need that is there.”

Janet said: “Food banks should not be necessary in rich Britain, but what they are is an example of local people coming together to meet the needs of their own community.

“This is not the Big Society. It is a humanitarian effort necissitated by government policy.

“The gap between rich and poor is widening all the time.

“We ask that people continue to support us, and also ask that our local MP and prospective candidates make a stand for the hungry people in this constituency - whether they are out of work, on low pay, with or without children, and to put an end to this appalling situation.”

The food drop-in committee and volunteers are continuing to appeal for financial donations.

Donations can be made at Yorkshire Bank, account name Todmorden Food Drop-in, account number 39388464, sort code 05-09-59.

For more information, call Janet on 07949 212464.

 

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