Starving

The haves and have nots, food poverty in Buxton
The haves and have nots, food poverty in Buxton

Demand for food parcels is rising so quickly that a community scheme is now running alongside the support provided by High Peak Nightstop.

Demand for food parcels is rising so quickly that a community scheme is now running alongside the support provided by High Peak Nightstop.

Cath Sterndale, Project Co-ordinator for High Peak Nightstop, who is also supporting the community scheme, said changes to benefits, redundancy or a cut in hours were among the challenges that have all taken their toll on people unable to cut their budgets any more as they have been left with nothing to budget with.

“It is really difficult and the need is becoming more apparent. We usually do three or four food parcels a week, but are now doing at least one a day not just for Buxton but for other areas in the High Peak,” explained Cath.

The fact that there are people starving within High Peak communities was highlighted during a harvest festival sermon at the United Reformed Churchon Sunday.

The URC in Buxton is playing a leading role in the community-led project together with other churches in the town. The demand is so great that the creation of a food bank – a larger scale operation working with supermarkets – is actively being explored.

“We have had people who by they time they come to us have had no food to speak of for several days,” said Cath.

Referrals are made from various other agencies, including health professionals and community workers, to help those in dire need who include an increasing number of families. Some need help for a few days, others a few weeks.

Cath said on one occasion she was asked by a parent for cereal and milk so they could feed their child: “They asked for nothing for themselves – they just wanted to make sure their child was fed.

“More and more people are struggling to make things meet and the situation is only going to get worse until we have peaked in this economic environment.”

The food parcels provided are made up of donated non-perishable food items. “We are not talking about fine cuisine – we are talking about basic needs,” said Cath.

Two recent appeals have seen a surge in the items donated through church groups and schools, but more help is needed over the coming weeks and months.

“The response has been very generous but it will only last so long and we need a constant supply coming in really so as it goes out we have stuff coming in.”

Collection boxes for donations of food have been placed in various churches and in volunteer centres.

“If everyone gave a little it would help a lot,” said Cath. “The need is there I have no doubt about that whatsoever but we have only seen the tip of the iceberg.”

lAnyone who can help organise a box for food donations or would like to help can email hp.nightstop@gmx.co.uk