Ipswich charity FIND makes urgent plea for food donations as demand reaches record high

Maureen Reynel at FIND�s Ipswich foodbank. Picture: JAMES FLETCHER

Maureen Reynel at FIND�s Ipswich foodbank. Picture: JAMES FLETCHER - Credit: Archant

An Ipswich foodbank is making a desperate appeal for donations as unprecedented demand from people struggling to make ends meet has left its shelves bare.

Since launching almost three decades ago, Families in Need (FIND) has seen need for its service rise year-on-year and it is now handing out 70 parcels made up of food and other essentials every week.

Yet food donations have hit a dangerous low, forcing the charity to dip into its vital funds to supplement the packages.

Maureen Reynel MBE, founder and board chairwoman of the charity, said: “FIND has a fantastic group of volunteers who the charity totally depends on and without their amazing support all year round, many more people would be left without.

“But there has been a significant decline in donations to the foodbank over the last few months, leaving us little choice but to use our own funds to buy the food and toiletries we need each week.

“We have managed to bridge the gap so far but can’t afford to do this much longer. We urgently need more donations to continue supporting the many people in and around Ipswich who rely on our deliveries.”

Nelleke van Helfteren, deputy manager of Ipswich Citizens Advice, said people in the town were suffering due to changes in the benefit system.

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Universal Credit is being rolled out across the UK and is replacing a number of means-tested benefits. It is paid monthly in arrears, which means new applicants have to wait a month after a successful assessment to receive the cash.

Ms van Helfteren added: “Increasingly it’s become very difficult for people to manage their income to make it stretch over the time it’s intended because we are seeing increases in food, utility and housing costs but we are seeing no increases in income, whether benefits or work.

“People are on such tight budgets that any change in circumstances can lead to people not having enough money for food and we know in this part of the year compared to the same time last year we have seen a 30% increase in food parcel requests.

“Usually in the winter it’s high because people have to choose between food and heat. In the summer people have fewer heating bills but utility bills are going up.

“We are heading for a much worse situation in the winter and it’s a heads up that organisations like FIND need all the help they can get in terms of donations of food and money and volunteers to deliver this essential service to people locally.”

Mischa Pearson, who runs the Ipswich Teapot Project, which takes surplus food that would have otherwise gone to landfill and feeds it to those who need it most, said the community needed to pull together to help those living in poverty.

“People are struggling,” she added. “Agencies need to work together and communities need to unite to weather the storm, because times are hard for many and if we can help we should.”

The Teapot Project is now contributing to more than 4,000 meals a month for Ipswich people via the YMCA, Salvation Army, Turning Point, Burlington Baptist Church, Impact, Christchurch House youth hostel and Gainsborough Library.

Food donations can be made to Waitrose at Futura Park, Sainsbury’s Warren Heath or any participating East of England Co-Op.

For more information on FIND, see here.