“People come in here crying” – Salford Foodbank manager

SALFORD Foodbank has handed out 4,000 three-day emergency food packages this year –  a 78% increase from last year.

The foodbank is one of many run by the Trussell Trust which provided 174,489  food packages in the North West last year.

Manager Marl Whittington, 43, from Salford, has been with Salford’s foodbank since it opened in 2012.

He said: “Many people come in tears, many people have not eaten for days or have skipped meals so their children can eat.

“There’s been many instances of people without gas or electric. For me it is shocking that we live in a society where people are really struggling and can’t actually afford to eat. It is still continuing and we are seeing more and more people each year who are really struggling.”

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The charity runs primarily on public donations of food, but have recently received a grant from the Salford City Council which has been used to open their new foodbank in Eccles, and to open another one in Swinton early next year.

The foodbank relies on a referral system for people in Salford to get access to the help it has to offer. There are 85 local agencies, such as schools, health services, children’s centres and many others, which identify people who are in a crisis refer them to the foodbank through giving them a food bank voucher.

This voucher is then exchanged for a three-day food package from Salford Foodbank, which is made to suit the person’s dietary requirements or the number of people they have to feed.

Mr Wittington also said: “A lot of the increase in the use of our food bank is down to benefit changes, so the introduction of Universal Credit has made us see a massive increase, changes around tax credits has played a part as well.

“I think to a small extent, our increase in the use of this foodbank is down to people getting to know about foodbanks more, but really it is a lot around benefit changes. Over half of people that are referred to us is because benefit changes or benefit delays.

“There’s a lot of deprived areas in the North West and I think the North West generally misses out on a lot of funding and benefits like other people down South would get and there’s also a historic issue of poverty in the North West.”

The resources at Salford foodbanks have already been stretched this year, meaning they are having to buy food from supermarkets which has already amounted to a good few thousand pounds worth as a few essential products have not been donated by the public.

These include UHT milk, rice and tinned foods. The food donations have remained pretty much the same despite the increase in the use of food banks in the UK.

Mr Whittington added, “More and more people are going to need our help in the future, so all we can do as a charity is to do our very best to help as many people as we can.”

Last year 11,175 tonnes of food were donated by the public throughout the UK. Non-perishable items are essential for the food bank to create the three-day emergency food packages.

Nappies and toiletries, such as women’s sanitary products, shower gel and shampoo, are also included in the packages if they are needed.

The food packages have been designed by a food nutritionist, so not only is each package helping a person in crisis, it is also helping the person nutritionally too.

If you would like to make a donation, there is food collection points at Morrison’s, Sainsbury’s and Tesco in the Salford area which the public can donate non-perishable food items. The Salford Foodbank also accepts donations being directly given to them at the centre.

A list of food items that the food bank need, and what they don’t need, can be found here.

Salford’s Foodbank is open 1pm – 3pm every Tuesday and Friday and is located at Christ Central, Mocha Parade, M7 1QE.

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