charity food in demand

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FOODBANKS across Thetford are facing increased demand as the recession continues to bite.

Delayed benefit payments, homelessness and unemployment have hit residents in the town, according to charity groups.

Tilly Swaep, from the Salvation Army, said the charity was seeing more people who struggle to put food on the table.

“We have had quite a big increase in demand for food in the last four of five months – it’s people who are on the breadline,” she said.

That was echoed by Ali James, voluntary manager of Thetford Foodbank, which has given packages to more than 150 people since opening in December.

“We started out small but more and more people are being referred to us.

“The response from the public has been amazing but we need to keep it up.

Ms James said people using the service came from a range of situations.

“It isn’t just the typical homeless person or someone on benefits.

“We’ve had families and older people coming in for donations and it seems that everyone is affected,” she said.

Jules Savage, senior project manager at St John’s Housing, said changes to benefit laws had been a factor.

“A lot of it is caused by the new laws because people miss a payment and then get sanctioned for it,” she said.

Most of the providers, including Thetford Foodbank and the Salvation Army, give people enough food for around three days.

Food is generally tinned, and other supplies including toothpaste are provided.

Figures released last week by foodbank charity The Trussell Trust show Thetford’s situation is part of a national trend.

More than 100 new foodbanks launched nationwide last year, with the numbers of users more than doubling.

Chris Mould, chief executive of the Trussell Trust, said: “Every day we meet parents who are skipping meals to feed their children or even considering stealing to stop their children going to bed hungry.”

Thetford Foodbank currently opens every Saturday morning, 10.30am to noon and Monday afternoon, 12.30pm to 2pm.

It is located at the Liberty Centre, in Kelvin Place.