Cirencester Foodbank sees an influx of people requiring food boxes
Food Bank distribution centre team members Jean Bernard, Darren Lund and Christine Whitaker outside Ashcroft Road church in Cirencester
MORE people in Gloucestershire than ever before are feeling the need to turn to a food bank to secure their next meal.
New research shows that the number of people using food banks across the county has more than doubled in the last year, with the North Cotswolds seeing a 106 per cent increase of people visiting the banks.
Food banks are set up to help out individuals who find themselves in the middle of a crisis and unable to afford the weekly grocery shop.
Paul Jefferson-Jones, 60, has been visiting Cirencester Foodbank for a number of years and admits he would find it tough to eat without its help.
He said: “It would be extremely tight without the food bank. There have been times when, because of my income, I just can’t afford good stuff.
“I have to make do with the cheap end of the market which can be really irritating at times.
“There are times when I’ve had unexpected bills to pay and just haven’t been able to afford food to eat.”
Paul is one of the many people throughout the Cotswolds who find that their benefits do not fully cover the cost of living.
He said: “I didn’t think I’d ever be in a position of needing the food bank.
“The sort of people using it are those who suddenly find themselves without employment and without money to buy food.”
Cirencester Foodbank opens twice a week and provides users, who have a voucher of entitlement, with a bag of non-perishable food items such as tinned goods and dried pasta.
People can get referred to the food banks by professionals such as doctors, social workers and school liaison officers.
Christine Whitaker, 68, a volunteer at Cirencester Foodbank, told the Standard that the numbers of people in the town using the food bank has risen.
She said: “We have seen an increase. We have an average of about 10 clients who come in with a voucher each session, it used to only be four or five a few months ago.”
Christine also explained that while they are often inundated with donations around Christmas, it is important that food still comes in throughout the year.
She said: “A lot of people get very generous around Christmas time but we do need donations at all times of the year. We need it coming in all year round.”
Cirencester Foodbank is open between 1pm and 3.30pm on Mondays and 9.30am and 12pm on Thursdays inside Ashcroft Church in Cirencester.
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