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Cumbrian foodbank expecting to help 300 people a month

Staff at an emergency food service in west Cumbrians say they expect to see a “huge rise” in demand from the area’s most desperately poor people.

Jessica Hendry photo
Jessica Hendry

The prediction has come as chiefs at the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority were accused of not doing enough to bring the potential economic benefits of Sellafield to local communities, including some which are among the most deprived in the country.

In the last two months of 2012, North Lakes Foodbank helped feed 759 people and it now hands out around 1.5 tons of food to impoverished locals every month.

The group said that it has been given “generous” help by both Sellafield and its parent body Nuclear Management Partners.

But staff at the Foodbank expect the demand for their services to continue to grow, particularly as the effects of a tougher benefits regime begin to kick in.

Jessica Hendry, who co-ordinates the church initiated community project, said: “We are meeting demand at the moment, but when the welfare system changes come in I think demand will begin to rise hugely. I imagine we’ll be helping 300 people a month.

“We see people of all different ages. We’ve seen families who may not have eaten for four days.

“It may be somebody who has come out of hospital who gets out to find that they haven’t got a house. We try to sign-post them to people who can offer them the help they need and they’re usually incredibly grateful.”

There are ample statistics available that show Copeland – despite its population of comparatively well-paid Sellafield workers – continues to have pockets of extreme poverty.

In Sandwith ward, in the Whitehaven area, for example, one recent report said that 49 per cent of the children were living in poverty. Nearly 15 per cent of families in the ward have an annual income of less than £10,000, and life expectancy is 65.5 years.

But the area’s Copeland councillor Peter Stephenson was sanguine about the area’s economic plight.

He said: “You don’t actually see it when you live here; it’s something you live with.

“There have been a lot of improvements over the last seven years. Fred Story is building new houses and Holme Group have built new bungalows. Prior to that, we were dying a slow death.

“Ideally, I’d like to see more investment in to all our communities, not just Sandwith. Everybody should benefit from Sellafield.

“I’m not saying that we don’t get anything but as far as I’m concerned Sandwith doesn’t get anything out of it.”

Age UK’s west Cumbria office also sees evidence of poverty among pensioners, with some choosing between eating and heating.

Christina Timney, the charity’s helpline co-ordinator in the area, said workers had seen a 50 per cent increase in calls for help with the rising costs of winter fuel.

Have your say

Eddy, Have you ever asked yourself what the council tax payers, of this country are actually paying for and the national insurance tax payers, and food tax, and tax on every item we buy in the shops, as consumers? We pay for everythingnd subsidised nuclear energy, even the natural gas tax payers paid for the infrastructure and subsidied the gas companies, who make billions in profits from ectracting natural resources every day . The very wealthy pay as little as possible for all the benefits, that they receive from the tax payers. they even benefit from the consumers including those who dare to ask for financial support from a government that also benefits greatly from the poor.

Posted by Dawn on 10 February 2013 at 09:08

Eddy, foodbanks are manned by volunteers. The food in the banks is donated by the public. The Govt. dont fund foodbanks and if this Govt had to fund so much as a bar of chocolate to a starving man you can bet your bottom dollar they'd be looking at ways to shut all foodbanks down.

Posted by Rod on 7 February 2013 at 23:21

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