Significant increase in Shrewsbury food bank users as cost of living crisis takes hold

A Shropshire food bank team say that the effects of the cost of living crisis are already showing, with monthly users significantly up on last year.

Food bank Plus project lead Karen Williams, at Barnabas Community Church, Shrewsbury
Food bank Plus project lead Karen Williams, at Barnabas Community Church, Shrewsbury

Shrewsbury Food Bank organises and distributes parcels of donated items, and believe people are feeling pressure they haven't felt before.

It follows the latest figures that revealed 91 per cent of British adults reported their cost of living has increased, including 39 per cent who say they trimmed back their grocery shops.

The amount of monthly users of the Shrewsbury service is significantly up this year, with 561 using the food bank this April compared to 385 in 2021.

Shrewsbury Food Bank does more than just help with food, offering support in terms of household items and money advice.

Karen Williams, project manager at Shrewsbury Food Bank Plus, said: "I think people are feeling pressure that they haven't felt before

"We had a lady this morning who cried for around an hour.

"There is a sense of hopelessness, that bills are shooting up and people don’t know how they are going to pay them.

"I think previously people have had a specific reason for needing to use our bank, such as a vet bill.

"But anecdotally, now it is 'I just cant manage, I get to the end of the month and don’t have any money'."

Karen believes this fact is worrying, as people's situations will not improve unless they increase their income, by means such as a second job.

She added: "We are fairly steady overall, as Easter is often quiet compared to Christmas where it is hugely busy.

"But, in April last year, 385 people used our bank, which has increased to 561 this year.

"And our debt advice is extraordinarily busy.

"We are even having to contact energy companies on behalf of people.

"I compare it to an elastic band, people stretch it as far as they can, but now there's no more give.

"We have changed our parcels, because we have found donations have changed with what’s going on in the world.

"We can’t offer the same variety we used to. Some items, such as gravy granules, we just cant offer anymore as we have to focus on providing the basics."

There are two food bank locations in Shrewsbury, one at Barnabas Church Centre and one at Hope Church, with more information available at barnabascommunityprojects.org/shrewsburyfoodbank

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