Urgent appeal to help struggling High Peak Foodbank this Christmas

Food bank
Food bank

A foodbank is struggling to cope with the high demand from needy High Peak families in the run-up to the festive season, with stock levels running dangerously low.

More and more are turning to foodbanks to help bridge the gap as they risk getting into debt while striving for a perfect Christmas.

With the reverse advent calendar people put in items and then send it to the local foodbank

With the reverse advent calendar people put in items and then send it to the local foodbank

Paul Bohan, from High Peak Foodbank, said: “We saw a reduced level of demand during the first two thirds of the year, but since September we have struggled to feed those in need.

“Normally the harvest festival donations keep us going throughout the year, but we didn’t have enough supplies of the basics to keep going into the new year.”

On a more positive note, in the past year the Zink Employability scheme run through the foodbank has helped 28 people back into employment.

Paul said: “This is fantastic news and it means 28 families are not in food poverty and do not need to use our services anymore.”

Food Banks in the Peak  Paul Bohan

Food Banks in the Peak Paul Bohan

Even with this good news the foodbank is struggling in the run-up to Christmas.

“We haven’t recovered since the tax credit mix-up in September,” said Paul.

There was a surge for emergency food parcels after tax credit payments for children were not paid out after the government outsourced the work to a new company.

Paul said: “We have one client whose payments have not been right for four months now so he is very dependant on us, but as our stock is running low we are not able to offer him a balanced or varied diet.”

Zena Aris-Sutton from New Mills Helping Hands foodbank

Zena Aris-Sutton from New Mills Helping Hands foodbank

Marks and Spencer in Buxton has struck a deal with the foodbank and every day donates bread, fruit and vegetables which would otherwise have been thrown away.

Paul said: “If it wasn’t for these donations, I don’t know how we would be able to keep helping people.

“Our emergency packs used to contain enough meals for seven days - now we have had to reduce that down to five - but we are able to top it up with more fresh items. So now a teatime meal may be beans on toast rather than a pasta and sauce dish.”

Paul explained that parents feel under pressure to get the latest must-have gifts for their children.

He said: “No-one wants to see their children go without at Christmas, and when their school friends have things parents bow to this and make sacrifices elsewhere, and normally the first thing to go is the food budget so we have to step up and help.”

The recent government cutbacks to benefits has also made more people turn to the foodbank for help.

Paul said: “Regardless of what you earn, if you take a 20 per cent cut it will impact on you and you need time to sort out your finances and work out what you can now afford.

“There is nothing scarier than worrying about money and where your next meal will come from.”

A recent foodbank project has seen them working with another charity, Food Share, which involves taking breakfast items into Fairfield School so children never have to go hungry in the morning.

The foodbank, at the United Reform Church on Hardwick Square East, Buxton, is in desperate need of donations.

Tinned and dried goods are always needed, but in the run-up to Christmas specific donations of shampoo, deodorant, razors, shaving foam, toilet rolls and coffee are in particularly high demand.

Anyone who would like to make a donation can do so at any of the following places: Waitrose, Morrisons, The Source Café, Buxton Library and Barclays all in Buxton; the Residents of Fairfield Association; most churches in Buxton; St John’s Church, Tideswell; New Mills Volunteer Centre; Shaw’s Bakery in New Mills; and libraries in Chapel-en-le-Frith, Bakewell and Tideswell.

Any donations of tinned food must be made to the foodbank itself between 4pm and 5.30pm, Monday to Friday.

Foodbank reverse advent calendar

Helping Hands foodbank in New Mills is holding a reverse advent calendar so every day people donate an item to the foodbank.

At the end of the appeal, hampers will be made up and distributed to those in need.

Zena Aris-Sutton, from Helping Hands, said: “For some people, Christmas can be particularly difficult, with restricted incomes being hard-pushed to cope with extra demands on money.

“For those with families who want to make this time of year feel special, it can be really hard.

“When simply getting by is a difficult balance of income and expenditure, getting through the festive season can mean needing a bit of extra help.”

The reverse advent calendar started in November and will be finishing on December 10 so volunteers can deliver them in time for Christmas.

To make a donation, or for more information, contact 07425177999.