Huge spike in referrals sees more than 900 people seek help from food banks in Wigan

More than 900 people in Wigan were referred for help from a food bank in a single week, it has been revealed.

Wigan Council has seen a recent spike in demand, coinciding with the rising costs of living, with as many as 920 referrals made in just one week.

On average around 70 people a week are referred to the council for help with things such as food, energy bills and other necessary living costs.

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But as many families are beginning to feel the sting from the rising costs of energy bills and some people are being forced to make the decision to either “heat or eat”, the local authority has noticed an increase in the number of referrals it is getting to its welfare support crisis desk in recent weeks.

Vital everyday items being prepared to go to someone at a foodbank.
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Coun Susan Gambles, the council’s cabinet portfolio holder for housing and welfare, said: “We have seen a huge increase in the number of people coming to the council for support over recent weeks. Before the pandemic, we would see an average of around 70 people a week coming to our crisis desk. Recently, 920 people came to the crisis desk in just one week.”

The council has launched its Here For You programme to support people across the borough during the cost-of-living crisis, offering support with benefits, childcare, money management and keeping well.

It includes a network of 75 warm spaces – made up of libraries, galleries, leisure centres and charity hubs – where people can go to keep warm and chat to others.

Coun Gambles said: “These are really difficult times for many and our Here for You programme has been put together by the council, in partnership with organisations across the borough, to provide help for local residents in a variety of ways including practical assistance, support and advice.

"So if you or someone you know is struggling, you do not need to do it alone, please get in touch as we are Here For You.”

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The Trussell Trust’s food bank for Atherton and Leigh revealed last week a stark increase in the number of people needing its help.

The charity distributed around 46 per cent more emergency food parcels in August and September than it did in 2021, and it provided more than 4,000 food parcels across Wigan in 2021-22.