Hartlepool Foodbank is appealing for more donations after giving out more than 13 tonnes of food and toiletries in just three months as demand grows since the Universal Credit roll-out.
The charity based in Church Street has helped an additional 400 people since Christmas as the effects of Universal Credit continues to be felt by people, say managers.
They are expecting demand to continue to rise, particularly among families.
Foodbank coordinator Abi Knowles said the situation is “heartbreaking” but their work makes a massive difference to people who need them.
She said: “We have seen an increase in referrals due to the Universal Credit waiting period and the subsequent arrears that people find themselves in.
“This is being rolled out now to families, so as well as seeing an increase in the number of vouchers processed, we are also giving out larger amounts of food in our food parcels, as the amount we give out increases with the number of people in the family.
“Since Christmas we have served over 400 more people than during the same period last year, and we are certainly seeing an increase in the numbers of people needing help for longer periods of time.”
The foodbank is currently very short of fruit juice/squash, breakfast cereal, UHT milk, tinned tomatoes, tinned fruit, pasta sauce, rice pudding, tinned potatoes and sponge puddings.
Abi said the upcoming Easter holidays can be a ‘flashpoint’ for demand on the foodbank which coincides with a drop off in donations after Christmas.
She added: “Unfortunately we expect demand to continue to rise, particularly among families which is heartbreaking, but we’re determined to continue to be there for everyone who needs us.”
Abi said they expect demand for the foodbank to continue to increase as the roll-out of Universal Credit continues.
“The effects of this are much longer term than just the five or six weeks that people don’t have money for – people will have arrears for much longer after this as they struggle to catch up with payments,” she said.
The foodbank, which opened in 2012, is open twice a week, and provides people with emergency parcels containing three days worth of food.
Abi added: “Every single donation to Foodbank really makes a massive difference to a family who are struggling.
“We always say that Foodbank is Hartlepool people helping Hartlepool people, and it’s true that we really come through for each other when the chips are down.”
If you would like to make a donation contact the foodbank on (01429) 598404 or on their Facebook page.