Funding cut spells disaster for Buxton poverty advice service

Food Banks in the Peak - Staff Portrait - Paul Bohan
Food Banks in the Peak - Staff Portrait - Paul Bohan

An vital service which helps people escape homelessness and poverty with crucial advice is facing closure when its funding is cut by Derbyshire County Council in April.

Zink Advice - based at High Peak Foodbank in Buxton - has been helping clients sort out problems causing them to need emergency food aid since 2015.

The service - part of High Peak charity the Zink Project along with the foodbank - supports people out of poverty and into jobs and is a ‘key part of the service’.

Area coordinator Paul Bohan told how the service - which costs £6,000 a year to run - had been ‘very successful’.

He said: “It has meant that we can help people resolve the issue that caused them food poverty straightaway then they don’t need to keep coming back for food parcels.”

Advice worker, Evie Goodwin Sherratt, told how more people were using Zink Advice to get help claiming new benefits.

She said: “The new benefit system Universal Credit is only available to claim online but some people can’t use a computer or access the internet.

“People tend to use the foodbank while they’re waiting for help to make a claim.

“Having an advice service in the foodbank means we can get the claim made straightaway and they don’t have to rely on food handouts.”

However there has also been an increase in the number of homeless people using the foodbank and Zink Advice has been there for them too, said a spokesman.

Evie said: “Last week alone I supported three homeless people into accommodation.

“One was young, pregnant and quite vulnerable and she had been offered shared accommodation in an area notorious for drugs - I helped her into somewhere more suitable.”

Paul said: “The advice service costs £6,000 a year to run and has supported around 150 people in that time.

“As a result over the last two years the need for food parcels has been stable at around 1,200 a year whereas everywhere else it has increased by 19 per cent according to national charity The Trussell Trust.

“Without further funding the advice service is likely to close, foodbank use will increase and homeless people will remain unsupported.”