WOKING Foodbank has had “its busiest Christmas”, administrator Alison Buckland told the News & Mail.
The charity, in its sixth year, recorded an increase in food donations but also a significant rise in the number of people using the foodbank.
“We’ve seen a 50 per cent increase in visitors from January to September, up from 2,000 to 3,000, and that trend has continued through Christmas,” Alison said.
“That may be because of the high cost of housing in this part of the world, or more people in debt, or problems with benefits, but ultimately it comes down to more people who can’t make ends meet.
“On the Monday before Christmas alone, we had 25 families at The Lighthouse in Woking, which is our biggest foodbank.”
The charity also has foodbanks at the Salvation Army in Sythwood, the Mascot Hub in Sheerwater and a new satellite in Byfleet, which opened this summer. They open at various times from Monday to Friday.
“Fortunately, the amount of food donated has kept pace with the demand,” Alison went on. “Once again I’d like to thank the amazing and generous support that we’ve received, whether it’s been from the public, or companies, or schools, via the drop boxes in supermarkets, anyone who has contributed.
“And a special mention to Trudi Fletcher and her friends, who have again been running the Brookwood Foodbank Campaign.”
Indeed, so generous is the overall support for the charity that it has taken additional storage space by renting a unit in Sheerwater.
That generosity has allowed the charity to organise a series of events at The Lighthouse as part of its Christmas Kindness project. More than 200 Christmas gift hampers have been given to children, about 100 attended a Christmas coffee morning with games and a singing Santa for children and some pampering for parents, and some 40 young adult care leavers were supported through care-package gifts that included toiletries, blankets, hats and gloves.
In addition, a Christmas Day meal for 100 was prepared and served at The Lighthouse.
“If anyone wishes to donate at the moment we’re always grateful for food vouchers, which we can use as the need arises.” Alison said.
“Also, if anyone wants to make a cash donation, however small, we’d really appreciate it, to go towards the rental of the Sheerwater unit. We don’t pay a lot, but it all helps.”
Those in difficulty are referred to the foodbank by council departments or agencies such as Citizens Advice, children’s centres and health visitors.