Foodbank’s desperate plea for help in supporting those in need across Lancaster and Morecambe

Morecambe Bay Foodbank is issuing a heartfelt plea for support as they try to help families struggling with the cost of living crisis.

By Gayle Rouncivell
Friday, 22nd July 2022, 3:00 pm

The centre is usually packed to the rafters with stocked shelves, as generous locals help out with donations that are then passed on to people needing a bit of emergency assistance to tide them over.

However, the premises currently has numerous empty shelves, and foodbank trustee Joanna Young said there are concerns that this will cause severe shortages by the time winter arrives.

In May the foodbank helped 715 people from 324 households, including 452 adults, 196 children aged four to 17 and 67 children under four, giving out 5,818kg of food.

Volunteers Diane, Sue and Val, pictured with some of the empty shelves at Morecambe Bay Foodbank.

Between April 2020 and March 2021, they handed out 11,181 foodbank parcels – a 22 per cent rise on 2018-2019 (the period through the pandemic is not being used for comparisons because it was unprecedented and the charity was also feeding people who were self-isolating).

Joanna said the charity is currently trying to prepare for a food shortage this winter.

"Stocks have been gradually decreasing since Christmas,” she said. “The shelves are usually stacked solid."

"This winter we are expecting demand to soar, just as our donations are reducing. We are appealing for as many donations as we can get.

Empty shelves at Morecambe Bay Foodbank.

“We usually get a little dip in foodbank use in June, but demand is as strong as ever which demonstrates to us that by October there will be fewer donations to support more people."

While basic items such as pasta and baked beans are usually in plentiful supply, the food bank is particularly in need of items such as fruit juice, UHT milk, instant puddings and tinned meals.

Also needed are large-sized nappies, pull-ups and baby wipes.

"We are very acutely aware that people are finding it tough at the moment but if people can maybe donate just one thing that would be great,” Joanna said.

Morecambe Bay Foodbank runs a school uniform project for those needing items for their children.

"The price of food is really going through the roof. Previously items being donated that cost 50p may now cost 75p. A packet of rice is now over £1 instead of 50p.

“The winter is going to be extremely difficult for some people. The government payments are really helpful but they are just a one-off. It's not a long-term solution if you don't have a lot to live on.

“Disabled people in particular are going to have a difficult winter.

"People are going to have important choices to make about whether they keep warm or buy food.

Morecambe Bay Foodbank trustee Joanna Young.

"With the cost of electricity and everything else going up as well it is extremely difficult for some people.

"Everyone's feeling it. We have had referrals from nurses and teachers."

An emergency food box typically contains supplies for five to seven days - where previously it was for three days.

Boxes vary depending on the size and ages of the family, or if it is for a couple or a single person.

For the first time, the charity is also giving out reading books and sun cream with the food parcels being delivered to families with young children.

Special cold boxes are also provided for people without electricity or on a meter.

Morecambe Bay Foodbank in Westgate.

"It's very difficult to provide nutritional balance without fresh food, but we try very hard," Joanna said.

"This is an emergency service, it's not intended for people to live off long-term.

"Long-term we try to help people move to a better solution such as into a food club or a visit to the Citizens Advice Bureau.

"The vast majority of people will use the food bank once or twice, and then if they need to they will move on to use [community food scheme] Eggcup.

"We don't want people to come back - but when things are going wrong this is a useful solution."

Morecambe Bay Foodbank has been in operation since 2012, and moved into its current premises in Westgate a year ago.

It’s ably assisted by 60 volunteers, as well as two full-time and one part-time paid staff.

Manager Briony Scott said: “It’s endlessly rewarding, and I am incredibly proud of the volunteers here. We see 10 to 15 every day.”

The foodbank is also into its third year of running a school uniform project - and has already been inundated with referrals.

"For the first time we are seeing parents asking for help for all of their children rather than maybe just one in the past," Joanna said.

The school uniforms most desperately needed are items for Central Lancaster High School, Our Lady's Catholic College and Heysham High School.

"Any logo uniform items for those three schools would be so welcome as we have a critical need," Joanna said.

For more information about how you can be referred to the food bank, see their website at https://morecambebay.foodbank.org.uk/ for details on which agencies can help.

If you need help with school uniforms, you can self-refer via the website.

If you want to donate to the food bank, you can use one of the numerous collection points in shops around the district, or pop into their centre in Westgate (next to Home Bargains) Monday to Friday, 10am until 3pm.

"Our donors are incredibly generous,” Joanna said. “It's the general public that enable us to run the operation and we think that's amazing.

"We are so grateful for every donation. Our key message is please don't forget about us. We are desperate to be able to serve the people that need us this winter.”

Morecambe Bay Foodbank runs a school uniform project for those needing items for their children.