Community rallying to feed needy Leeds families

A volunteer offers support at a foodbank at Bramley Methodist Church.
A volunteer offers support at a foodbank at Bramley Methodist Church.
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More than half of the people who were fed by a foodbank in a leafy Leeds suburb last Christmas were children.

Volunteers at Leeds North Foodbank, which is based in Moortown, are expecting the number of desperate people turning to them for support this December will nearly treble.

Foodbank bosses are anticipating their busiest days yet – with around 3,000 vulnerable Leeds residents expected to fall into food poverty over the festive period.

The number of families living on the brink of financial despair will be tipped over the edge over Christmas as hard-pressed parents are forced to choose whether to eat or to heat their homes, as well as trying to provide presents for their children.

The Yorkshire Evening Post is calling on readers once again to show their support for our Feed A Family campaign to help our city’s families feed their children over Christmas.

Many families are set to find themselves facing the stark decision of choosing to eat or heat their homes as winter starts to bite.

And there are fears that some of the city’s most vulnerable youngsters will go to bed hungry over the festive period.

We are calling on readers to donate items from our special Christmas shopping list or even volunteer the gift of time to help our city’s foodbanks cope with the soaring demand this December.

Caring staff at Asda, in Pudsey, are already throwing their support behind the campaign by hosting a special collection point this week.

A special trolley will be set-up in the store to encourage shoppers to donate an extra tin of food from their shopping lists to support some of Leeds’s most vulnerable families over Christmas.

The team, who supported our campaign over the summer holidays, helped to collect hundreds of tins of food and toiletries during the summer holidays.

And players from Leeds Rhinos are also throwing their weight behind the campaign once again.

Supporters led the charge over the summer to collect hundreds of items off our special shopping list to help some of our city’s most vulnerable families put food on their tables.

Rhinos captain Kevin Sinfield said: “We are pleased to support the Yorkshire Evening Post’s Feed a Family campaign in their bid to ensure that children don’t go hungry this Christmas.

“Earlier this year the club held a collection before a game and our fans showed great generosity in donating food to help disadvantaged families in the city.

“We hope once again that people can get behind the campaign and make it a success.”

The YEP’s Feed A Family campaign helped to feed more than 1,260 desperate people in Leeds this summer – almost half of them children.

Individuals, businesses and other organisations across the city played a part in collecting a staggering 15 tons of food – the equivalent of FIVE double decker buses full.

And foodbanks in north, south and west Leeds handed out a staggering 11.7 tons of emergency food parcels – almost THREE double deckers – to needy residents whose cupboards were bare.

As the city’s foodbank networks stock their shelves for the festive period we are calling on schools, businesses and organisations to support some of the city’s most vulnerable children this Christmas.

A spokeswoman from the Trussell Trust said Christmas is the hardest time of the year for people who are struggling to make ends meet.

She said: “Christmas is the hardest time of year for many people who are living below the breadline.

“Parents are forced to make stark choices between eating and heating the home, and many find themselves unable to afford any presents for their children.

“Facing hunger at a time of feasting and festivity is incredibly difficult, which is why Trussell Trust foodbanks are pleased to be partnering with Yorkshire Evening Post to help make sure no one has to go hungry this Christmas.

“We’d like to say a big thank you to Yorkshire Evening Post readers for their generosity and would like to encourage as many people as possible to donate to help local families who are struggling this Christmas.”

A shocking new study reveals delays and gaps in the welfare system are behind the soaring numbers turning to foodbanks.

Problems linked with benefits, such as sanctions or waiting for payments, are one of the main reasons people turn to food banks, says a report by Oxfam, Child Poverty Action Group, the Church of England and the Trussell Trust.

Councillor Keith Wakefield, leader of Leeds City Council, said many of those who turn to foodbanks are working families.

He said: “It is a real reflection how many working people as well as people who cannot work are suffering as a result of low ages, benefits sanctions and fuel bills going up.

“It is astonishing to think about the scale of people who need help in Leeds.

“People just cannot believe that children are suffering in this day and age in this country.

“This is almost going down to Dickensian days or even the 1930’s.”

And he said he knows of families and young mothers who are simply going without food to ensure that their children are fed when they get home from school.

“This is an issue that doesn’t affect just the inner city areas of Leeds,” coun Wakefield added.

“We are talking about foodbanks in places like Moortown, Roundhay and Horsforth all of which might have an appearance of being more well off.

“Even in my own ward I know that there are pockets of deprivation.

“I think it is quite illuminating to think in the 21st century there is a need for foodbanks.

“Shining a spotlight on this helps to explain that this isn’t just about people’s lifestyles.

“Many of these families are working who have children who are struggling to feed their families.

“We are still a prosperous nation but I never thought that Leeds or any other big city would be handing out food parcels and still doing so in today’s world.

“It is a shocking indictment and those who are suffering are children.”

MAKE A DONATION

East Leeds: Oxford Place Methodist Centre, on Mon and Thur, 2pm to 6.30pm.

North Leeds: Moor Allerton Methodist Church, Alderton Rise, on Mon, Wed and Fri from 11am to 1pm; or Lister Hill Baptist Church, Horsforth, 2pm to 4pm on Wed, 10am to noon Sat; Tesco, Roundhay Road, seven days a week.

St John and St Barnabas Church, Belle Isle Road, LS10 3DN, on Wed from 9.30am to 4pm; and Hunslet Methodist Church, Telford Terrace on Wed from 10am to noon.

West Leeds: Tesco in Bramley, all week; Morrish Solicitors in Pudsey, Mon to Fri office hours, and The Mill Kitchen, in Farsley, seven days.

SHOPPING LIST

Milk (UHT or powdered)

Sugar (500g)

Fruit juice (carton)

Tinned meat/fish

Tinned veg/fruit

Soup

Pasta sauces

Sponge Pudding (tinned)

Cereals

Rice Pudding (tinned)

Tea bags/instant coffee

Instant Mashed potato

Rice/pasta

Jam

Biscuits/snack bars

Toilet roll

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