A food bank and a free cafe has been launched in a refurbished church in Portsmouth.
St George’s Church Of England in St George’s Square, Portsea, will open its doors as a food bank from 4pm to 6pm on Thursday, October 31 .
The food bank, which will run every Thursday, is supported by The Trussell Trust, which supports three similar services across Portsmouth.
Running alongside the food bank will be a cafe offering free tea, coffee, and cakes to those in need but without a food bank voucher, which are available from medical staff and social workers.
More than 145kg of food, including soup and pasta, is ready to be handed out, thanks to donations from the Harvest Festival collections from St George’s Primary School, in Hanover Street.
It was the poverty faced by some of the children attending the school that led to the creation of the food bank, according to Beckie Denny, community organiser at the church.
She said: ‘Talking to St George’s Primary School almost 50 per of their students are eligible for free school meals.
‘We began to look at the deprivation in the surrounding area and realised a food bank would be a huge help to a lot of people.’
She added: ‘We are also encouraging donations of clothing, toiletries, and any cutlery or crockery.’
Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan was on hand to help sort donations on Saturday.
The Labour MP said: ‘While it is good to see more support available for people in need, we should not be celebrating food banks.
‘We are one of the richest countries in the world, and I’ve have heard of firefighters needing to use food banks because of low pay.’
Trussell Trust research has found a 30 per cent increase in the use of food banks in areas 12 months after the introduction of Universal Credit.
The Portsea church is undergoing refurbishments costing more than £10,000, with work having started in June.
Donations can be made at the church during Sunday services from 9.30am to 10.30am and every Thursday from 3pm to 6pm.