What a grand difference Fylde Foodbank has made in the 15 months it has been operating.
The number of food parcels given out since the service was established locally by the Trussell Trust in September 2014 has now topped 1,000, in the process feeding more than 1,500 adults and almost 1,000 children.
We have a responsibility to give to those in the greatest need but they need to help themselves
In addition, the Foodbank supports school breakfast clubs, community drop ins and other ventures which provide backing for those in need.
After starting off with just a handful of volunteers, there are now around 50, covering the Fylde Foodbank bases at St Annes, Kirkham and Warton.
“We have seen a steady increase in those attending each of our three outlets and we now have a Foodbank open somewhere in Fylde five days per week,” said Fylde Foodbank founding member and trustee Christine Miller.
“Our clients are referred to us from a variety of agencies helping them with their particular issue, such as Citizens Advice, social services, children’s centres, schools, doctors, the Town Hall, social housing providers and the like.”
The Fylde Foodbank is one of more than 400 around the country, operated by more than 40,000 volunteers and Christine added: “People who come to foodbanks not just here, but across the country, do not want to be here and the moment they can get back on their feet they stop coming.
“We always have a flurry of people arriving late afternoon, just before closing time as it’s almost like they have tried to put it off all day.”
The organisation has a policy of not allowing people to cash in more than three vouchers in six months.
Christine added: “We have a responsibility to give to those in the greatest need but they need to help themselves.
“The foodbanks are not a long-term sustainable solution and it is important that people don’t become reliant on us.”
One parcel supplies enough food for three days, including a number of non-perishable items such as soup, baked beans, pasta, tinned meat and rice pudding, while expanding links with supermarkets and other suppliers help provide items such as fresh fruit and bread.
Christine and her small team of volunteers first began their work in September 2013 after identifying a number of people regularly attending the Citizens’ Advice Bureau in Kirkham in need of help.
She said: “A small group of people including myself set up a board of trustees to help and we were taking items in the boot of our cars to people.
“People who come here to volunteer have a community calling, they want to put something back into Fylde.”
John Myers, a 68-year-old former bank worker who has volunteered at St Annes since Fylde Foodbank began, said: “I have lived in St Annes all my life and being involved in the Foodbank has been an eye-opener for me in terms of just how much need there is of our services.
“A good example of the difference the service makes came when I recently met a young dad in a local supermarket.
“We helped the family several times over a few months when he was unemployed and waiting to take up a new job.
“He told me that after beginning his new employment, things were looking up and he thanked us for all the support and help we had given the family when it was needed.”
Fylde Foodbank is open at the Church Road Centre, St Annes on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11am to 3pm, the Citizens Advice Bureau, Kirkham on Mondays and Fridays from 11.30am to 2pm and at St Paul’s Church, Warton on Wednesdays from 11am to 2pm. Details from www.fylde.foodbank.org.uk