Telford food bank facing 'uphill struggle' as donations dwindle and demand soars

Telford’s food bank is facing an ‘uphill battle’ to keep its services going as the cost of living crisis in the UK starts to hit.

Some stark facts produced this weeks tells of the struggles they are facing. The food bank, run by Telford Crisis Support from a unit in Halesfield, provides meals for people who are registered unemployed or need the service for financial reasons.

But operations manager Simon Lellow says the charity is putting in £1,000 a week from its own reserves of funds because donations are dwindling.

Last week the shelves had one tin of soup, compared to 2020 during the lock down when a unit they used for storage in Sutton Hill had 2,000.

This year they had already served 93,000 meals up to the start of August – in 2020 they served 90,000 for the whole year.

Not only are donations of tins and other food stuffs down, so are donations of money to the charity which it relies on to keep it going.

Simon said: “It is a difficult time for everyone and that includes us, because the first thing that goes when people are having to tighten their belts is either luxuries or donating to charities, people only have the money to get essential items for themselves.

“We thought the Covid years would be the maximum it ever got to in terms of how bad things were, but we were actually doing better two years ago in terms of food on the shelves than we are now.

“The cost-of-living crisis is really kicking in hard now and has been for several months. We are facing an uphill battle to maintain the service at the moment.

“Effectively, we are sending out more than twice the amount of food than we are getting in and that’s not sustainable.

“We are having to dig in hard to our reserves for food. We used to be in a position where we had a floating stock of the staple foods such as tinned beans and soup but that’s not the case now.

“I call it the feast and famine effect, where you either have too much coming in or not enough. It also seems as the need goes up, the goodwill goes down because people are struggling to pay their own bills and feed their own families, never mind being responsible for others.

“We are lucky in that we have those reserves to call on but they aren’t endless obviously and it’s not an ideal situation to have to run them down.

Lynn Cooper from Telford Help Ukraine is another person representing a group which is feeling the pinch.

She said donations are down for the group, who send out regular ‘mercy missions’ to the war-torn country, and also provide support for Ukranian citizens who come to live in Shropshire.

She said: “People can only give so much and there is also the problem that people think the situation there is getting better when it’s no,t but understandably at the moment people can only afford to get the essentials for themselves and with rising heating costs that could get worse.”

The group are set to meet with Ludlow MP Philip Dunne on Tuesday near Bridgnorth with the intention of setting up a support network for Ukraine and its citzens in the south of the county.

Telford Crisis Support were recently boosted by Dawley estate agent Morgan Payne Knightly acting as a collection point for the food bank - the charity also runs a school uniform project and baby back - for full details go to www.telfordcrisissupport.org.uk.

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