THE number of foodbanks throughout Wigan borough is set to increase.
As rising numbers of families feel the squeeze on their food budgets, several charity organisations have plans to lend a helping hand.
The rising cost of food and fuel and proposed changes to the benefit system have pushed record numbers of people throughout the North West to turn to foodbanks to feed their families.
Lynda Battarbee from the Trussell Trust, a charity that currently operates 270 banks across the UK and has plans to open two in Wigan borough, says the need for their services is an indictment of the current social climate.
She said: “Our aim is to do ourselves out of a job, to be honest.
“We would prefer that the foodbanks were not needed but I’m sorry to say that it is the opposite at the moment.
“We currently have two sites under development in the Wigan area and there are possibilities to open more in the future.”
Each foodbank provides boxes which contain three days of nutritionally balanced meals consisting of non-perishable tinned food and produce.
In order to receive the packages, individuals need to have a voucher handed out by either their GP, the Jobcentre or school.
Ms Battarbee, added: “We work alongside church communities who have contacted us because they feel there is a need for one of our stations.
“We offer training, guidance and support in order for them to get started and it normally takes between three and six months before each bank is up and running.
“The one in the Atherton, Hindley and Leigh area will be ready in the new year and the one nearer to St Helens will be opening before Christmas.
“But there is scope for us to open one closer to the centre of town if people contact us.”
The Brick Homeless Project run food-bank in Wigan town centre has been operating for four years but founder Trish Green says they are braced for an unprecedented need for their service next year.
She said: “We are expecting a deluge come next April once the changes to the benefit system start. We have already noticed a change in the people who are coming to us.
“There are a lot more families and I think that is only going to continue. It is a real worry and we are doing our best to be prepared.
“With these changes to the benefits, people won’t be used to receiving everything in a lump sum. They may pay their rent and bills but then end up having nothing left for food and that’s where we would have to come in.”
• For more information on the Trussell Trust’s projects visit www.trusselltrust.org and for The Brick Homeless Project visit www.thebrick.org.uk