In these austerity driven times it seems foodbanks have become permanent fixtures in Ashfield as families and individuals become debt-ridden and desperate to keep their heads above water.
One foodbank set up by volunteers Churches Together at St John’s Church, Kirkby Woodhouse has been in operation for more than a year now and has given food to over 1,500 people.
Volunteers set up the foodbank in May 2013 to offer essential foodstuffs to deprived families and to help them with advice on debt and benefits problems.
Elaine Moulton, project manager said: “We have supplied food for people in dire need from different parts of Ashfield and we will open up outside our normal hours if there is an emergency case.
People are referred to the food bank and must have a referral form stamped by social services or a doctor.
One referral will allow them three weeks worth of food tokens.
“We never turn people away and we will give them food on trust for the first time,” said Elaine.
“We reply mainly on the good will of local Churches and other individuals to bring in food and this is getting more and more difficult as time goes by and the need grows each week.
“We need staples such as a tin of potatoes peas or veg and a tin of meat, such as meatballs, long life milk, cereals and a tin of rice pudding. People can choose eight other items on the table , things like biscuits.”
Ann Pugh and Maureen Machin deal with referrals at the entrance to the foodbank.
Ann said: “We have helped a lot of people who are very emotional and embarrassed when they come in and there have been some very sad cases. People often have the wrong idea and think anyone can just walk in and get free food.
“Some will try to pull the wool over our eyes, but it doesn’t work like that - there are checks made.”
The food bank is open on Thursdays from 1.30-3pm.
Those using it can also get free independent advice from the Social Inclusion Group on welfare benefits and debt.
Volunteer Ron Cox, 66 holds a surgery alongside the foodbank. He said: “Nobody would be coming here for food if there wasn’t an underlying problem.
“The main one is debt and people are using their benefits to pay off debts. They don’t realise there are alternatives.
“We have helped people recover £750,000 in benefits and awards they would otherwise have missed out on. The sad thing is the ignorance of people that there is help for them available and nobody tells them about it.
“I think it is a disgrace in this day and age we have to have places like this.”
The group holds fundraising jumble sales once a month in the Church Hall and has stocks of basic clothing for people who are in greatest need. Captions: nmac-foodbank kirkby woodho.JPG: Elaine Moulton project manager of the foodbank at St John’s Church, Kirkby Woodhouse.