New figures out this week show demand for food donations at Highbridge’s Foodbank is continuing to soar as local people struggle with financial problems.

Over 550 packs of three-day emergency food supplies were provided to local people by the Highbridge Area Foodbank during the period from April–September 2016, compared to 291 during the same period in 2015.

Of this number, 202 went to children. Organisers say the top three reasons for Foodbank referrals are benefit delay 32%; benefit change 30%; and low income 14%.

Wayne Sadlier, Foodbank Manager in Highbridge, told this week: “Anybody could find themselves in need of the Foodbank. Every week we meet local people who have been hit by something unavoidable – such as illness, a delay in welfare payments or an unexpected bill – and are unable to afford food.”

“It really is only with the community’s support that we’re able to provide vital emergency help when it most matters, and we’re constantly surprised and overwhelmed by local people’s generosity.”

“We’re keen to work with individuals, businesses and organisations across the community to help put a stop to local people going hungry – there’s a part for everyone to play. Thank you so much to everyone in Highbridge, Burnham-On-Sea and the surrounding area who already donates time, food and money to help local people. If you’re not already involved, we’d love to hear from you!”

Highbridge Area Foodbank is part of The Trussell Trust foodbank network. The Trussell Trust has this week proposed a direct telephone line between foodbanks and local job centres – as it reveals that more than half a million emergency food parcels have been issued across the UK in the first six months of the year. The number means that the foodbank network is on course to distribute the highest number of food parcels in its 12-year history during 2016-17.

The proposed hotline would provide vital timely and invaluable trouble-shooting support for people referred to Foodbanks because of problems with a welfare claim and may prevent them from needing the foodbank again.

A hotline would be a low cost solution that allows foodbank managers and volunteers to support those in serious crises more quickly and efficiently, reducing stress and negative impact on the mental wellbeing of people referred to the foodbank. Evidence from The Trussell Trust network of foodbanks suggests foodbank managers, volunteers and welfare advisers spend a significant amount of time on hold to DWP phone lines on behalf of people in crisis.

Highbridge Area Foodbank has been providing three-day emergency food and support to local people since 2012. Between April 2015 and April 2016, 644 three day emergency food supplies were provided to people in Highbridge, Burnham-On-Sea and the surrounding area by the Foodbank. Of this number, 195 went to children.

Pictured: Above, Burnham-On-Sea Food bank helper Alun Davies and, top, some of the stock of supplies given out by the Food Bank