Doncaster Free Press launches campaign to boost foodbanks as Universal Credit rolled out across borough

Volunteers at Doncaster Foodbank, at Christ Church, Thorne Road, Doncaster
Volunteers at Doncaster Foodbank, at Christ Church, Thorne Road, Doncaster

The Free Press today launches a campaign to help feed families during the launch of universal credit in Doncaster.

This week is due to see the roll-out of the new benefits system for all claimaints in the borough, following its initial introduction for unmarried people aged under 25 earlier this year.

But it has sparked fears there will be extra pressure on food banks - because previous roll outs have left some families waiting several weeks before they have received payment, leaving a period without cash coming in.

Today we launch a campaign urging residents and businesses to donate food or allow their premises to be used as a pick-up point.

Free Press editor Nancy Fielder said: "We are today urging people and businesses to make food donations to the borough's foodbanks to ensure they can continue to offer emergency help in the community. We shall name collection points as they come forward."

Doncaster Foodbank, on Thorne Road, says a rising number of people are expected to be referred for short-term emergency support following the full roll out of the new system of benefits,

That is alongside a rise in the number of people referred for help during the cold winter months when costs for electricity and gas hit a high.

Doncaster Foodbank, part of the Trussell Trust Foodbank Network, provides emergency food support to local people.

In the last financial year, 4,213 three day emergency food supplies were provided to local people in crisis by the foodbank. A total of 1,400 of these went to children.

Mark Snelson, project manager, said: “We can only continue to provide crucial support with the community’s help; we rely on local donations to run the foodbank. Following the full roll-out of Universal Credit in the area our foodbank expects to see an increase in the number of people needing help. Many people are not receiving their first payment for at least 6 weeks - some will be waiting longer. Some families will find themselves in debt long after they receive their payment. Those in difficulties often have nowhere else to turn.

“The foodbank really is the community working for the community; we’re very grateful for all of the support we’ve received since we opened in 2013, and we’re pleased that all of that food, time and money given generously by people in Doncaster goes straight back into providing support when someone local is hit by a genuine crisis.

“It is humbling to see how much people are willing to give, and the difference this can make when someone is at their lowest point."

As well as appealing for food donations, Doncaster Foodbank needs shops or businesses in the area willing to host a food collection point.

The organisation's most urgently needed food items include tinned fruit, long life fruit juice, tinned rice pudding, tinned meat, pasta sauce and rice. It also takes non-food items such as toiletries, cleaning and sanitary products,. All items should be unopened, in date and in good condition.

Donated food can be delivered to Christ Church any Tuesday or Thursday between 9am and 12noon at Thorne Road, Doncaster, DN1 2HG. You can contact the foodbank at info@doncaster.foodbank.org.uk or by visiting www.doncaster.foodbank.org.uk

Doncaster also has food banks operating in Bentley, Rossington, Balby, Askern, Thorne, Stainforth, Edlington and Mexborough.

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: “The vast majority of claimants are paid in full and on time, and are comfortable managing their money. Advance payments and budgeting support is available for anyone who needs extra help.”

They said their figures showed around 80 per cent of all new claims were paid in full and on time, and when new claims were not paid on time, it was estimated two-thirds had an outstanding verification issue, such as providing bank statements, evidence of childcare costs, or proof of rent.