Foodbank volunteers working hard to support increasing demand

Volunteers sort the donations at Rugby Foodbank's warehouse. Photo: Rugby Foodbank NNL-170426-105339001
Volunteers sort the donations at Rugby Foodbank's warehouse. Photo: Rugby Foodbank NNL-170426-105339001
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The sharp rise in demand for emergency supplies at Rugby Foodbank over the past few months also means a greater call on the volunteers who help out.

More than 4,000 three-day emergency supplies have been given to those in crisis in Rugby over the last six months, a dramatic increase of around 61 per cent.

Volunteers sort the donations at Rugby Foodbank's warehouse. Photo: Rugby Foodbank NNL-170305-093428001

Volunteers sort the donations at Rugby Foodbank's warehouse. Photo: Rugby Foodbank NNL-170305-093428001

Rugby Foodbank and its small army of volunteers believes welfare changes – meaning some people’s benefits are delayed for six weeks or more – are a significant reason for the increase.

“Since Christmas it’s been much busier – I think we peaked the week before Christmas at 26 vouchers which is absolutely unheard of,” one volunteer, Corina, told the paper.

“And since then it’s dropped from that but it’s much higher than usual.

“We used to get 8-10 vouchers a week for the whole of last year but now it’s up in the teens every week.”

The stories you hear, you feel for them, it can be heart-rending.

Rugby Foodbank volunteer Corina

The government’s switch to Universal Credit has seen many people re-applying for their benefits, with many applications delayed.

Rugby Foodbank volunteers said they meet people from all walks of life needing emergency supplies, with 47 per cent of users being single and a third were children.

“So many people say, ‘I never thought I would ever get to this point, I used to give to the foodbank’,” Corina said.

“It’s very busy but the stories you hear, you feel for them, it can be heart-rending.”

One such victim of the changes – Michael, 33, from Newbold – told the Advertiser about how he has waited two months for his benefits, leaving him relying on the foodbank.

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said the reasons for foodbank use are complex and Universal Credit is seeing more people getting work faster than before.

Benefit delays blamed for rise in Rugby foodbank users

Rugby foodbank users struggling to cope with benefit changes