ROTARIANS in Warwick returned after their Christmas break to hear about those for whom the festive season had been a struggle.
Andy Bower, operations manager at Warwick District Foodbank, told them how the charity had seen an increase in demand of nearly a quarter in 2019 and brought the club up to date with the needs they were encountering.
Warwick District Foodbank now covers an area including Leamington, Whitnash, Warwick and Kenilworth and has seven locations where food is distributed. Several local companies help with donations and storage, as well as supermarkets who have collection points for dried and canned food, and other necessities.
During 2019 over 53,500 kilograms of food (over 54 tons) was distributed to more than 5,000 people.
Claimants have to obtain a voucher from a GP or other referral agency – Citizens Advice, Salvation Army, Social Services, local church, etc. to entitle them to assistance. The number of vouchers is limited to a “crisis” ending with the problem experienced being resolved. Foodbank is an emergency response not a long term solution.
Issues causing people to be so short of money they cannot afford food include sudden crisis such as redundancy, low income – zero hours contracts can result in being unable to plan expenditure, benefit delays, benefit changes, debt and homelessness. Contributing factors include the impact of Housing Benefit restrictions – Bedroom tax, Universal credit, tax credit changes and withdrawal of disability benefits.
The children of these families often receive free school meals, but during the school holidays go hungry. The churches of St Pauls in Fryer Street, All Saints in Emscote, and St Michaels at Chase Meadow have joined a national charity ‘Make Lunch’ and provide between them three free lunches a week during school holidays.
The Rotary Club stepped into fund provision of a small Christmas present for the 40 children on their lists. The club is keen to ensure mothers and children know about these drop in lunches, and to see that the churches are adequately funded.
Rotary president David Brain handed Mr Bower a cheque to help their work and others gave him goods and donations to take away.