Bishop’s fear for hungry families

Bishop of Doncaster, Peter Burrows.
Bishop of Doncaster, Peter Burrows.

THE BISHOP of Doncaster has spoken of his fears at the rising number of people relying on food handouts to feed their families.

Hundreds in the borough are now turning to foodbanks to help feed themselves and their families, according to those organising them.

The Venerable Peter Burrows says more and more people of all ages in Doncaster are struggling to put food on the table as the recession continues to bite.

He said: “Turning to charity is not an easy choice for many people as they don’t want to be seen to rely on handouts. But it is a growing problem.

“We are one of the richest countries in the world but people are having to turn to food banks to exist and survive.”

Mr Burrows’ comments come after the opening of a new food bank to help feed people in Conisbrough, and another in Intake. Balby Bridge is set to see its food bank open on Friday.

The project, run by Food Aware, takes surplus food from supermarkets and other retailers and distributes to those in need at discounted prices.

Managing director Sean Gibbons said there were 15 other similar projects in the Doncaster area, helping to feed 500 people across the town each week.

He said: “It is certainly becoming a bigger problem and we are getting more and more people using the service. It is our job to step up and meet those demands.”

The Trussell Trust, which operates 250 food banks across the UK, estimates there are currently 13 million people living below the poverty line in the UK, with the number rising.

A spokesman said: “Every day people in the UK go hungry for reasons ranging from redundancy to receiving an unexpected bill on a low income.

“We provide a minimum of three days’ emergency food and support to people experiencing crisis.”

In 2011/12, foodbanks fed 128,687 people nationwide - and this year the figure is expected to rise to over 230,000, with increasing costs of food and fuel combined with static income, high unemployment and changes to benefits causing more and more people to seek help.

Mr Burrows, who has addressed the problem in his sermons, added: “The number of food banks has been increasing for quite a while, both locally and nationally, and the number of people requiring help and support is growing.”

The banks are run by charities, churches and various faith groups, and Mr Burrows said: “They offer a real lifeline for people and their families.

“They provide help for people who are struggling to make ends meet through no fault of their own. In my own experience, people only look at food banks when they are in a real crisis. It can be quite traumatic and embarrassing, and sadly no-one is exempt.

“There is obviously a growing demand and we have to be able to meet that demand.”

For more information on food banks in Doncaster, visit Food Aware Community Interest Company