Need for help is ‘growing’ says foodbank co-ordinator

DM17737968a.jpg Midhurst foodbank volunteers hand out more food boxes than ever before. Chrissy Abbott (left) and Chenai O'Reilly. Photo by Derek Martin. SUS-170731-190535008
DM17737968a.jpg Midhurst foodbank volunteers hand out more food boxes than ever before. Chrissy Abbott (left) and Chenai O'Reilly. Photo by Derek Martin. SUS-170731-190535008

Midhurst Foodbank co-ordinator Chrissy Abbott has stressed more help is needed in providing food and support to low income families this summer.

People who don’t have enough money for food are referred to foodbanks by social services or health services.

Midhurst foodbank volunteers

Midhurst foodbank volunteers

The foodbanks have been increasingly busy this year and are even more so during the summer holiday with children not receiving their free school meals.

Mrs Abbott, who runs the Midhurst operation with her husband Mike, told the Observer: “It is a very busy time of year because we do lunch boxes for children.

“We are always busy at this time of year but it is going well as we have lots of volunteers who work really hard.

“(However), we can always do with more money and more food. The need is growing.

“Every family on free school meals is entitled to have one lunch box per child every two weeks, which is three boxes per child in the summer.

“The summer holidays can be very long and if you have got to feed two or three children for six weeks, your budget can have problems.”

However, Mrs Abbott highlighted the ‘sad’ truth that single, older men are also struggling.

“We have seen an increase in single, older men who are struggling, which is quite sad.

“Sometimes they are not well and can no longer work, or they lose their jobs because they are considered not able.

“When you are young, you can tell yourself things will get better but it’s hard to do that when you are older.

“It can lead to all sorts of things like depression.”

Although, Mrs Abbott expressed her gratitude for all the support the project has received.

She said: “The people of Midhurst really are a generous lot. Strangers come up to me and shove a load of notes in my hand.”

She also praised the ‘very good’ work of the Chichester Job Centre staff, who are ‘very on the ball’ when it comes to referring people to the foodbank scheme.

“They like to apply all the rules with kindness which is a bit of a novelty these days,” she added. “Although there are a lot of flaws in the scheme they have done their best to mitigate disadvantaged people.”

Meanwhile, Petworth operation co-ordinator John Riddle raised concerns that the take-up of people in the area ‘does not match the evidence of need’. He added: “Due to the perception of wealth in Petworth, there is a reluctance for people to engage in the scheme, which they can do through a doctor’s surgery, family centre, youth association, schools and playgroups, as well as churches.”

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