Gas price crisis: Leeds foodbank prepares for upsurge in demand

A Leeds foodbank is hoping it will receive more donations from the public as it prepares for an expected increased demand this winter for a number of reasons including the gas price crisis.

Friday, 24th September 2021, 4:45 am
Updated Friday, 24th September 2021, 12:27 pm

Staff and volunteers working for Leeds South and East Foodbank, which was launched in 2013, are used to dealing with vulnerable clients who have to decide to pay for food or heating.

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But the gas price crisis - which is set to see energy bills rise this winter due to spiralling gas prices - is one of a number of reasons why more people are set to face the difficult choice this winter.Foodbank project manager Wendy Doyle said: "I see that people are going to need to use food banks this winter due to the hike in fuel prices, the end of furlough and the universal credit uplift of £20 a week being dropped. And also the fact that food prices have risen dramatically over the last 12 months."

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Project manager Wendy Doyle with Nathanya Laurent, foodbank development manager, at the Leeds South and East Foodbank depot on Millshaw Industrial Estate. Picture Tony Johnson

"The choice is going to be do they put the heating on or do they feed their children."

Wendy added: "It's not just people on benefits that are going to have this problem, it's people that are working as well who are going to have to make that decision.

"A lot of people we are seeing coming through the door are people that are working who are on low wages. They are on zero hours contracts."

Barbara Tate, a trustee of the foodbank, said: "We are expecting an increase in demand for our services.

"We are hoping that we get some extra donations over the next few weeks.

"The majority of the people that use our services have gas prepayment meters so historically they have always paid more for their gas so they will be in a worse position.

"We hope we can cope with demand. We don't know what's coming through the door. We can only give out what we have got but we will do our best.

"I think it's going to be a busy winter."Foodbank development manager Nathanya Laurent said: "We see these difficult choices all the time and have done for many years.

"There has always been the issue of clients having to work out if they buy food or pay for fuel. There's always that balance and that quandary.

"There's always really difficult choices for people that use our service.

The foodbank, which relies on donations from the public, has 11 outlets in east and south Leeds, including at Belle Isle, Beeston, Seacroft and Gipton and also gives out food to other charities.

In the six months from April 1 this year the foodbank has fed 4,189 people, including 1,763 children.

It has given out a total of 4.9 tons of food during the same period and has given more than 23 tons of food to other charities. across Leeds.

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