Foodbank use ‘set to increase’

Chairman Chris Leech with volunteer Marcella Ennis. INPT46
Chairman Chris Leech with volunteer Marcella Ennis. INPT46

The number of people using Craigavon Area Foodbank is expected to rise in the coming weeks, due to benefit reforms and increased spending on fuel as the cold weather sets in.

Chris Leetch, chairman of the foodbank, said that from April to September, the foodbank had fed 1,358 people, 542 of whom were children. Forty per cent were people on low incomes, and 20 per cent were in need because of benefit delays and changes.

And he added that since September the numbers contacting the food bank for help because of benefit changes had been rising further.

He said, “The food we provide makes a huge difference in the lives of those who receive it, both meeting an immediate need but also relieving stress and anxiety during a difficult time.

“At our food bank centres, people can expect a warm welcome and the opportunity to get a cup of tea, have a chat and we also offer signposting to other services.”

The Craigavon foodbank was formed in 2012 and feeds around 3,500 people a year. It has three centres - the Beacon in Portadown, the Hope Centre in Lurgan and The Lightwell Centre in Drumgor - staffed by about 50 volunteers.

It is hoping to introduce new projects which will address the underlying issues surrounding food poverty, and needs more volunteers and financial help to be able to deliver this.

It also welcomes more foodstuff donations, in particular tinned meats, tomatoes and fruit, sugar and UHT milk - which it commonly runs short of.

Anyone who wishes to volunteer or make a donation should email info@craigavonfoodbank.com or contact them on the Facebook 
page.

Across Northern Ireland, foodbank use rose by 43 per cent in the past year, with low income the main reason for referral.