Urgent help is needed to ensure Carlisle's foodbank can continue to offer a lifeline to those most in need as stocks run "dangerously low".

Leaders of the vital city charity say many of the shelves in their warehouse are empty at a time when demand is at its highest.

School holidays mean that more and more families rely on the services of the organisation to put food on the table while donations in between terms also fall.

Volunteers are now urging members of the public to step in and help them replenish their vital food and drink supplies ensuring that no one will go hungry this summer.

Rachael Rodway, chairwoman of Carlisle Foodbank, told the News & Star: "We've got to remember that we are now in the school holidays and that means our donations go down but our requirement goes up because we have families coming in where their children aren't getting school meals.

"We always need to buy food in using our financial resources towards the end of August but this year we are having to do it very early. It's been a lot worse this year.

"At the moment we are checking from one session to the next if we have enough to give out. Normally we are months ahead."

A range of supplies are running low including cereal, meat, fish, vegetables, fruit and rice pudding while they are always in need of long-life milk and biscuits.

"What we tend to do, especially when children are involved, is not to ramp the bags up with lots of carbohydrates. We always try to give plenty of fruit and veg."

Rachael stressed that the foodbank will not turn anyone away, as long as they have the necessary voucher.

"But we might end up giving out restricted bags," she added

In a bid to explain why the problem is particularly bad at the moment, Rachel believes that the Government-imposed cap on benefits has had a knock-on effect on families.

"Families with many children are being seriously affected," she continued.

"They are being made to choose between food, heating and rent.

"It would be really good if people can help us. If everybody, who can afford it, could just buy one extra tin of something that would really give us a lot of stuff."

People looking to donate can drop off items at a number of locations throughout the Carlisle area, including the Caldewgate Sainsbury's store and the Kingstown branch of Asda.

The Carlisle Labour Party arranged their own collection point in the city centre on Saturday.
The collection stall for the Carlisle Foodbank organised by Carlisle Labour

Party chairman Elsie Martlew said: "The information that come from the foodbank about children going hungry in the school holidays was heartbreaking.

"It's 2017 and families are hungry in the UK. It makes me so angry, the divisions in society are growing wider. This is the stark face of austerity."

Rachel added: "We never thought when we started this six years ago that we would still be going. We thought we would be dealing with a couple of years of austerity.

"If I thought when we set it up that things were going to be this bad, I don't know if we would've started a bit differently.

"We never anticipated we would be in the position we're in now."

The foodbank is open every Monday, Wednesday and Friday between 1pm and 3pm at The Courts, English Street.

A list of collection points are available from www.carlislefoodbank.org.uk/collection-points/ .