FOOD banks are under increasing strain thanks to austerity cuts says a charity chairman.
The Friends of the Homeless charity runs Fareham and Gosport Basics Banks and chairman Phil Rutt says the organisation is reliant on donations to help the thousands of people that rely on them.
Phil said: ‘Austerity cuts and Universal Credit is affecting everyone and the number of people using the food banks is rising every year. In the last year we have given out food parcels to 5,000 people in Fareham and Gosport and a third of that number is children.’
The Basics Bank puts out a list of items it needs each month but Phil said most of the donations it receives are in the run-up to Christmas.
He said: ‘We get a lot of donations around Christmas time and they help us replenish our stocks while later on in the year we rely on individuals and businesses.
'I think the number of people who use the bank will only increase because of the Universal Credit rollout although the local DWP has been very helpful and is trying to minimise impact so we don’t really know what will happen after the rollout.’
Last week Karen Hamilton from Bodyblast Bootcamp organised a 10-mile walk from Privett Park in Gosport to Westbury Road in Fareham pushing three trolleys full of items fro the Fareham Basics Bank.
Karen said: ‘We were greeted along the way with cheerful hello’s, good mornings and the odd strange look as to why a group of people were pushing three trolleys of food along the promenades and streets of the area.
‘If we had stopped to tell them it would have been something along the lines of there are probably more people than you realise who rely on food banks in our area.
‘Phil told us they need thousands upon thousands of food items, toiletries and other basic essentials to keep on top of the demand so I wanted to do something that not only challenged our bootcampers but would help those less fortunate than ourselves in the local community.’
Users of the food bank are referred through third party agencies to ensure they are in genuine need.
Karen added: ‘Having had a tour of the Basics Bank and hearing how dependant they are on regular donations I am so proud of what we achieved.
‘Bodyblast Bootcamp is all about making fitness fun and improving the health and fitness of the local community but on this occasion we also reached out and made a difference in another way.’
Karen has already started plans for another Basics Bank walk in 2019.
List of items needed
- Jars of coffee
- Jars of jam
- Tinned rice pudding
- Tinned meat
- Tinned ham/spam
- Tinned custard
- Tinned fruit
- Tinned fish (not tuna)
- Tinned vegetables
- Tinned soup
- Packets of rice
- Shower gel (for men and women)
- Shaving foam
- Toilet roll
Items can be dropped off items at the following stores:
- Asda, Sainsbury’s and Tesco in Fareham
- Co-op in Portchester (in the precinct), and Lee-on-the-Solent
- Waitrose, Locks Heath and Gosport.
- Aspect House, Westbury Road, Fareham, Hants PO16 7XU (open Monday, Wednesday and Friday between 1pm and 3pm)
- Unit 1, The Old Railway, Spring Garden Lane, Gosport Hants PO12 1FQ (open Monday, Wednesday and Friday between 1pm and 3pm)