Starving families to get help at town hall

Volunteer Chris Jackson with the food bank at the Salvation Army
Volunteer Chris Jackson with the food bank at the Salvation Army
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A new food collection point will be set up at Preston’s town hall to help the growing number of people needing help.

In a move which has never been seen before, donations will be collected at the town hall before being handed out to the city’s most needy.

It comes as the demand for food parcels at Preston’s Salvation Army has doubled in the past year.

Coun John Swindells, the council’s deputy leader, said: “This really is a sign of the times. We hoped it wouldn’t be, but unfortunately this will have to be a permanent fixture.”

He said the idea came about after the Salvation Army raised concerns about 
donations dropping off after the busy Christmas period.

He said: “I was talking to Cpt Alex 
Codogan and he was saying lots of people contributed during Christmas, but this is not something just for Christmas.

“This food bank will be the first one, and we are looking at the logistics of ones possibly at the leisure centres, but things are a lot more self-contained at the town hall, so it might be easier there.

“There aren’t any other food banks in a town centre location, which is why the town hall has been chosen.

“You get all sorts of people using food banks now. There are families with two people working that are still not coping.

“Some of the benefit changes that will start affecting people who work, such as the bedroom tax, will only make things worse.”

General assistant Claire Hobson, of Preston’s Salvation Army, on Harrington Street, said they now give out around 300 food parcels a month.

Just 12 months ago, they gave out around 134 a month, and in the six months before that, just 60.

She said: “The response we get from the public is fantastic, but we have still got a high turnover.

“We need donations to keep coming in because we don’t want supplies to run low. A lot more people are aware of the situation in Preston now, of the people who are in need. We are going through a referral system so we are making sure the food gets to the right people. Referrals might come from social services or the Citizens Advice Bureau. We also get referrals from the Job Centre, and different children’s centres.”

Elsewhere, Carol Halton, of LivingWaters Church in Chorley, which runs a food bank on behalf of a number of churches in the town, said: “Our food has gone really low since Christmas and I thought the demand would quieten down, but it hasn’t.

“The demand increases every week. We are getting to the stage where I am not saying we can’t keep up, but we are needing a lot more food.”