Top-up shop reports 40% increase in customers
- Credit: Lawrence Carey
One of the "top-up" shops in Ipswich has reported a 40% increase in its customers seeking sustainable food at a reasonable price as they struggle with the rising cost of living.
The shops located in churches across Ipswich provide food for as little as £2 per bag for anybody who needs it.
Lawrence Carey, focal minister of Triangle Church Top-Up Shop, said the number of shop customers had risen by more than 40%.
He said: “The number of people struggling with the cost of living has gone up dramatically. We have definitely noticed an increase.
“In Top-Up Shops, we don’t alienate anybody. You are literally topping up your shop. It is relative to where you are at. If you have nothing in your cupboards, you are topping up from nothing. If you have half a cupboard, you are topping up from there. You just turn up at the Shop and join the queue."
The top-up shops have no qualifying criteria to get a bag of many kinds of essentials.
The mission of the shops and their partners FareShare, Neighbourly, food wholesalers and producers, is to offer local people quality food at discounted prices.
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Every top-up shop across Ipswich has created its own unique community, where people share recipes, as well as budgeting and lifestyle tips.
Mr Carey said the shops are not only about accessing food, it’s also about accessing the community.
Top-up shops organise many kinds of community events that support the individuals with their well-being and financial struggles and can have an influence on people’s situations. They are especially helpful for those struggling with a very difficult time in their lives.
Mr Carey said there had been many words of appreciation for the work he and other volunteers have been doing. He said: “I spoke to a lady a couple of weeks ago. She and her husband are both working. They’ve got a family of six and when the fuel price and the general cost of living went up, they found themselves really, really struggling. The lady was looking for me in the shop to say thank you. They wouldn’t be able to live normally without the help from the Top-Up Shop.”