A phenomenal rise in the need for foodbank crisis support

Project manager Wendy Doyle with volunteers at the Leeds and South East Food Bank in Lincoln Green.
2nd August 2017.
Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe
Project manager Wendy Doyle with volunteers at the Leeds and South East Food Bank in Lincoln Green. 2nd August 2017. Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe
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The increase in the take-up at a foodbank serving the south of Leeds has been “phenomenal” say crisis workers, amid fears that poverty in the city is getting worse.

In one week alone, the distribution centre at Lincoln Green hands out around half a tonne of food and at a faster rate than it is coming in.

Wendy Doyle, project manager, says the spike has come in the last 18 months and is more prevalent during the school holidays periods.

She said: “In the last 18 months the increase in clients has been phenomenal, that is right across the board at every one of my 12 sites.”

Last Friday at the Lincoln Green centre, in just two hours, Mrs Doyle and her team of volunteers saw 18 clients from single people to families handing out three days worth of food to each referral.

She said: “School holidays are the worst time for us because the kids are not getting the free school meals.

“A lot would get breakfast and lunch and the only meal the parents had to find was tea. So that is an extra couple of meals a day. We get a major increase in families coming through the doors.”

And for many of them it is a choice between putting food on the table and keeping a roof over their heads.

Mrs Doyle added: “In the school holidays it is an extra couple of meals a day. But do you pay the gas, electric or the rent instead? Feed the children or feed yourself? For some it really is that fine a line.”

The foodbanks in south Leeds were started four years ago after Mrs Doyle attended a tenants and residents meeting in Rothwell where she was living at the time.

The foodbank there was started, followed by Harehills and up to the 12 that now cover the south and east of Leeds with demand constantly on the up.

She puts it down to several factors from food prices going up to changes in the credit system.

Mrs Doyle added: “When I started not every site was busy. It was quiet but you would have one or two busy on a Friday when people panicked about having food for the weekend.

“But there has been a change. Food prices have gone up, everybody is budgeting and the benefits system has changed. Problems with tax credits and zero hours contracts is a major issue that we have got.”

Peter Sutcliffe.

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