12:00 Wednesday 15 January 2014

Demand soars for food banks at Christmas

Written byJENNY MOODY

Burton Salvation army christmas present appeal feature..Vic Wileman Burton Salvation army christmas present appeal feature..Vic Wileman

CHRISTMAS gifts were delivered to hundreds of deprived children across East Staffordshire who would have otherwise have gone without, thanks to a charity.

Salvation Army volunteers delivered 499 presents to children, 175 Christmas food parcels and 82 emergency food parcels to vulnerable East Staffordshire families in December – a month which one worker described as ‘sheer chaos’.

The charity provided 73 of these Christmas food parcels in Uttoxeter compared to 51 in 2012, which helped disadvantaged families who had little or nothing this Christmas, as well as 499 Christmas presents to children who would receive no other presents.

The presents, donated from schools, churches and well-wishers, were passed on to families referred to their service.

In Uttoxeter alone, the charity provided 14 food parcels, compared to just three in 2012, which served 21 adults and 14 children.

Vic Wileman, who works with the emergency food provider in Uttoxeter, said: “You would expect December to be a little busier because of Christmas – it was sheer chaos.

“In refuges we deal with the people there have next to nothing and there are children involved in most of the cases.

“So donating the presents was a chance to say that someone out there cares.”

Demand for emergency food parcels has roughly doubled in the last 12 months. Throughout this year, the charity provided 152 food parcels in Uttoxeter, compared to just 32 in 2012, which served 202 adults and 173 children.

In November the Post and Times reported concerns that children were going hungry in the town.

Mr Wileman said the rise in demand was down to a higher profile of ‘food banks’ in the media and the Government’s welfare reforms.

He said: “Their profile has made it easier for desperate people to ask for help, but we have to remember that most of the people are too proud to admit they need help.

“And, yes, there are changes in the welfare system, which can leave people without an income for a week or two.”

In the town the Salvation Army received referrals from Trent and Dove, a Uttoxeter charity shop, the NHS, social services, Changes, Art and Soul, the police, Harvey Girls, the Citizen’s Advice Bureau and Staffordshire County Council.

The Salvation Army is asking for donations of non-perishable and tinned goods to be made at the Tesco store in Dovefields Retail Park.

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