This week the Dispatch is calling on kind-hearted residents to spare some food to help fight poverty during the festive season.
We are launching our ‘Feed Our Families’ campaign in the run up to Christmas, by making sure our food banks are well stocked.
And for the first time, we will be joining forces with our sister titles, including Mansfield Chad, Eastwood Advertiser, Worksop Guardian and Derbyshire Times to help as many people in need as possible to put food on the table.
At a time when more and more people are battling against the breadline with household incomes at breaking point, people are still turning to food banks as a lifeline.
That’s why we at the paper are taking up the baton and asking you to get on board to boost the food bank by making a donation, no matter how small — every tin counts.
Group editor Nancy Fielder said: “This isn’t about handing over cash. This isn’t about pricking your conscience.
“This is about something much more simple than that. This is about you having the power to improve lives - the lives of your neighbours, friends and colleagues.
“Take a look in your cupboards. Buy an extra tin of beans when you do the weekly shop.”
Care professionals such as doctors, health visitors, social workers, the Citizens Advice Bureau and the police identify those in crisis and issue them with a food bank voucher.
This can then be brought to the centre where it can be redeemed for three days’ worth of emergency food, which is tailored to dietary requirements, tastes or needs.
Volunteers meet clients over a cup of tea or free hot meal and are able to signpost people to agencies able to solve the longer-term problem.
It can range from those on low income jobs, to others who have suffered redundancy or have seen a change or delay to their benefits.
Between April and September of this year, the food bank at the Stable Centre in Mansfield Woodhouse gave out 791 three-day emergency food parcels to people in crisis, and 295 of these were children.
Trussell Trust UK food bank director Adrian Curtis is worried that those statistics will continue to rise, as people on low incomes face choices between eating and heating.
In December 2014, referrals to The Trussell Trust food banks nationally were 53 percent higher than the average across other months, with over 130,000 three day food supplies being given to people in crisis in December alone.
Mr Curtis said: “We’re seeing that hunger remains a major issue for low income families and individuals.
“When the proposed changes to tax credits are implemented, we are concerned that more working families will not be able to make ends meet, and that we could see a substantial rise in food bank use as a result.
“We need to learn more from the realities of life for people struggling on low incomes and make sure that no incomes are too low to live on.”
Our aim in the coming weeks is to set up more collection drop-off points, with an aim to get local schools involved, as well as businesses.
Help by donating non-perishable food and toiletries at the Under One Roof centre at Vine Terrace, which is open from 9.30am to 3pm Monday to Friday.
The Salvation Army in Hucknall collects food all the year round. Donations can be dropped off on Tuesdays, Fridays or Saturday mornings, between 10am to 12pm.
The Bulwell and Bestwood Food Bank, based at St Philips Church, on Knight’s Close, Top Valley, is open for donations on Tuesdays, from 10am to 3pm, Thursdays, from 1pm to 3pm and Saturdays from 10am to 12pm.
Developer David Wilson Homes is collecting for the Trussell Trust’s foodbank in Arnold. You can drop food off at Papplewick Green in Hucknall.
The Stable Centre on Mansfield Woodhouse’s Church Street has a food bank which is open on Monday and Thursday afternoons, while there is also a collection point open at the Stable Centre every weekday morning.
Meanwhile, there are a number of smaller food banks serving the area, including the Salvation Army Care in Sutton, who take donations at their charity shop on Outram Street.
Others include St Mary’s Church on Sutton’s First Avenue, the Zion Baptist Church on Sutton’s Mansfield Road, and the Mansfield Community Food Bank, run by veteran’s charity the Joint Forces Alliance.
If you want to get involved, contact Nick Frame at the Chad on 01623 450283 or email firstname.lastname@example.org