'Uncharted territory' as meals handed out by Telford foodbank double in two years

A crisis support organisation's operations manager says it is in "uncharted territory" after a near doubling of the number of meals that the foodbank part of the charity has handed out in a year.

Erin Aston, front kneeling, from Telford Crisis Support accepted a food donation from members of The Church of Pentecost Telford District
Erin Aston, front kneeling, from Telford Crisis Support accepted a food donation from members of The Church of Pentecost Telford District

Telford Crisis Support's year ended on Friday afternoon and Simon Lellow confirmed that they had provided around 180,000 meals in 2022 - a doubling of the 90,000 in 2020 and more than 50,000 more than 2021.

And with January just starting, the team of volunteers at Fruit of the Loom House, in Halesfield 10, are gearing up for having to provide in excess of 15,000 meals.

"It is difficult to know what the January figure could be," said Simon. "We are in uncharted territory, we have never been in this position before."

Mr Lellow said the support before Christmas was "heartwarming" as they were able to supply 200 hampers to people in need, unexpectedly backed by a corporate sponsor.

They also had donations and a helping hand to provide the hampers which were packed with mince pies and other festive treats.

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"Given the circumstances that everyone faces it has been really heartwarming," he said.

"The people of Telford & Wrekin have been very generous, but it is bittersweet as the Christmas period is only a few weeks of the year. Nothing at all will be wasted as we head into January."

But overall he said that the charity has had to dip into its reserves as donations throughout the year were not enough to meet burgeoning demand.

"I would like to say thank you to everyone who has donated and helped us over Christmas," he said.

"We are open throughout the year. The donations have been fantastic, we have had lots of donations but this is a plea for the support to continue."

People struggling to make ends meet can self refer to the Telford Crisis Support. And they also help people who are referred to them from social services and charities.

Telford Crisis Support is an independent, volunteer-led, holistically focused charity, striving to be more than a foodbank. It provides a wide range of related support services for individuals and families across the borough of Telford and Wrekin and rural Shropshire.

Alongside its core foodbank service, TCS runs a baby and toddler bank and a school uniform pre-loved scheme, and through selective partnerships and collaborations, helps with home energy, re-homing, and support for bed poverty community projects, community events and more.

It is supported through funding from a range of providers, including trusts, foundations, grants, corporate, personal, and the local authority for which it provides some specific support services.

Mr Lellow revealed that the charity itself is under pressure from rising costs too from booming energy bills.

"We are not immune to it but it has gone beyond a cost of living crisis for people in the community," he said.

"It is now a cost of subsistence crisis.

"I hope it doesn't get any worse but it is likely to."

Mr Lellow said the best way to help TCS is by making a regular financial donation, but there are plenty of food drop-off points for them across the borough.

For more information on TCS, how to help, and how to get support visit telfordcrisissupport.org.uk

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