Portsmouth food bank sees 70 per cent rise in pleas for help

BUSY The Portsmouth Food Bank manager Martin Mant at the Kings Church in Elm Grover where the food bank is based. Picture: Paul Jacobs (121541-3)

BUSY The Portsmouth Food Bank manager Martin Mant at the Kings Church in Elm Grover where the food bank is based. Picture: Paul Jacobs (121541-3)

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A FOOD bank says it has seen a 70 per cent rise in the number of people asking for help to feed their families in the past six months.

The Kings Church in Elm Grove, Southsea, said 1,510 vouchers were given out between April and September, helping 3,083 people – almost double the number compared with last year.

During the same period in 2012, 890 vouchers were handed out, with 1,661 people benefiting.

This is an increase of 70 per cent.

Martin Mant, from Kings Church, said: ‘Although not quite as high as the national average it’s almost a doubling of the number of people helped.’

Natalie Hanchett, from The Haven Community Centre, in Lake Road, which also runs a food bank, said: ‘We have noticed over the past year that demand has increased.

‘It appears that the change in the welfare system is affecting people as they are all awaiting their benefits.

‘Over recent weeks, we have put out a plea for food donations which has had a fantastic response.

‘Portsmouth City Council employees did a collection for us.

‘We just need more donations to keep up with demand.’

The Kings Church food bank was set up by the national group, the Trussell Trust.

It says the number of people accepting its food nationally had tripled from 113,264 between April and September 2012 to 355,985 during the same period in 2013.

MP for Portsmouth South Mike Hancock said: ‘The food bank service here in Portsmouth is doing a formidable job in offering some solution to the problem of people desperately trying to feed their families.

‘So we should do what we can do to support the food banks.

‘The reason behind it is the general economic situation that so many people find themselves in.

‘If you can afford to give up some of your own shopping or buy a few things extra each week then take them to your local food bank.’

A Downing Street spokesman said: ‘Food bank use went up 10 times under Labour.

‘One of the reasons it has increased under this government is that we have removed the block Labour put in place preventing Job Centres from referring people to food banks.’

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