STARVING East Staffordshire families ‘are literally living on the breadline’ a Burton food bank has warned, as demand hits a new high.
Burton’s YMCA delivered 314 bags of food in the first three months of 2014, up from 264 in the same period in 2013.
The revelation came as the charity announced its support for the apolitical End Hunger Fast campaign, in which religious leaders called on the Government to tackle food poverty.
It also coincided with news from Britain’s largest food bank, the Trussell Trust, that almost one million people needed emergency food supplies last year – a claim the Government disputed.
Chief executive of Burton’s YMCA Paul Laffey (pictured) said need for handouts had increased since 2012.
He said: “We are issuing almost twice as much as three years ago.
“This is a clear indication that levels of hardship in the town, caused increased cost of living with people struggling on low income and changes in benefits.
“These are having a real effect on people who are literally living on the breadline.
“This is very much in line with the national picture, with charities such as the Trussell Trust reporting increased demand for food from people in need.”
The YMCA’s latest figures correspond with those from Burton’s Salvation Army to paint a gloomy picture of starvation and desperation among the borough’s poorest.
Burton’s Salvation Army said emergency food handouts rose by 118 per cent since March 2013, with 109 parcels delivered to 244 people in March – including 100 children.
Mr Laffey said the continued demand for handouts created an extra burden for the charity’s small team of volunteers.
He said: “We would very much like to hear from anyone who is able to provide food or funds or can give a hand collecting at local supermarkets.
“We are especially grateful to the many people from churches, schools, businesses and clubs who donate.”
Anyone who can help with collections for the YMCA should call Gillian Cox on 01283 538802.
BEHIND each set of statistics on food bank use are hundreds of stories of desperation and need.
Earlier this year, Burton’s YMCA said it was contacted by a distressed lady after her husband had been made redundant.
Despite working all of his life, they were unable to claim benefits until he received a redundancy notice from the company.
“I didn’t know where else to turn, we had run out of basic food”, she said.
Staff at the YMCA told the woman she could collect a food parcel straight away.
As well as enough food to tide the couple over, the staff also helped them to access advice for their mortgage and utility payments.
Paul Laffey, chief executive of the Burton YMCA said: “Our service makes an enormous difference to the many hundreds of people caught out by life’s events.
“Having no reserves to fall back on; we are a safety net, even for a few days.
“We have been doing this for 12 years.”
Of the 1,494 people the YMCA helped last year, 60 per cent were single adults.
Of the rest, 171 children were present in those families.
Mr Laffey added: “Normally, demand for emergency food rises in the last few months of the year and we are expecting to see a marked increase during autumn and winter.”