RECORD numbers of struggling families relied on charity handouts to eat this Christmas.
Foodbanks reported soaring demand, with the number of people depending on donations from foodbanks in Oswestry, Ellesmere and Weston Rhyn doubling in the past 12 months.
A staggering 41 vouchers were issued in Oswestry alone last week. A further 100 vouchers were issued in the town throughout November, compared to just 50 in the same month last year. All went to people who are struggling to feed their families.
Foodbanks act as a lifeline to thousands of people across the UK with 2,350 kilograms of food being donated in Oswestry throughout November and a further 1,979 kilograms during first two weeks of December.
Phil Simpson, pictured, manager of the Oswestry and Borders Foodbank, said: “We have been really busy these past couple of weeks.
“December is a time when people with tight finances begin to struggle the most, especially as the weather is getting worse and therefore people are having to use more heating.”
In addition to the standard food parcels, volunteers at the foodbanks have also been handing out Christmas boxes, containing festive treats such as mince pies, to desperate families during December.
Mr Simpson added: “We have been very fortunate as people have continued to donate.
“We had an increase in donations from Harvest Festivals and the Tesco donations at the start of the month.
“People just keep on donating which is fantastic.”
Charities have blamed the dramatic rise in demand on welfare reforms and the squeeze on household budgets in recent years as living costs rise while wages remain static.
The service is run by volunteers and is open to people with food bank vouchers, usually issued by care agencies such as doctors’ surgeries, to collect food parcels that have been donated. Each voucher provides food that will usually cover three days.
To donate to the Foodbanks visit donation points available at most local churches and in the entrance to Sainsbury’s in Oswestry.
For more information on the best items to donate, visit the Oswestry and Border Foodbank website oswestryandborders.foodbank.org.uk