Feeding the family over the school holidays is presenting problems for some people in the Wimborne area, with the food bank reporting an increased demand.
In July, Wimborne Food Bank supplied provisions to 123 people including 62 children. This was sharply up on the same month last year, when 69 people including 31 children were given supplies.
Rev Robert Jones, who is the Wimborne Food Bank co-ordinator said they have a vacation voucher scheme with QE school. There are about 20 families on free school meals who have taken up the joint offer from QE/Wimborne Food Bank. This enables them to have a voucher during vacations allowing them three food parcels in the summer holidays, two if they use the Easter scheme and one for the Christmas scheme.
Rev Jones said that over the past year there had been a substantial increase in total numbers of people fed. Also since June last year there were more households where at least one person is in paid work, and the family are receiving in-work benefits.
Rev Jones said: “We are also seeing an increasing number of clients who are having difficulty meeting their accommodation costs, and are facing homelessness. There are many distressing cases where disabled and chronically sick clients have experienced substantial cuts in their benefits due to changes in sickness and disability benefit rules, including the loss of Motability vehicles.”
The food bank receives regular donations of food from local churches and schools, and has collection boxes in Waitrose and the Co-Op in Wimborne. The bank has recently entered into a partnership with Teachers Building Society who are collecting food in their Wimborne head office.
Wimborne food bank is a Faithworks Wessex foodbank, operating a “Foodbank plus” model. This means that it does more than just give out a food parcel. It offers hope and signposts people to further help and support where it is available.
Rev Jones added: “We are referring an increasing number of clients for either budget coaching or debt counselling. We have good links with housing advice charity First Point. We were recently able to help a former food bank client to have broadband installed in his new home, after he moved from supported accommodation hostel to permanent self-contained accommodation, so he could continue his voluntary work on behalf of a mental health charity. We have also been able to help a client with a severely disabled family member to get help to trim an overgrown garden, with the help of a Faithworks Wessex group who work to help rehabilitate homeless people by providing them with work experience.
“We also work closely with the Children’s Centre, and as they have signed up with FareShare to redistribute wholesome but short-dated fresh food, we are able to offer that to our food bank clients on a Wednesday.”
During 2016, Wimborne Food Bank fed 964 people – 536 adults and 428 children.