STRUGGLING families have started receiving help from a new foodbank, launched ahead of Christmas.
The supply of free groceries, set up by a partnership of local organisations, is in response to the growing numbers of people enduring severe financial hardship during bleak economic times.
It provides nutritionally-balanced food packs to last at least three days.
Local churches, community groups and organisations collected more than three tonnes of food ahead of the launch.
Vouchers are issued by frontline care providers to people affected by issues including debt, homelessness and unemployment.
Angela Metcalfe, project director at the Hope Centre, said: “Traditionally, foodbanks have been seen as a last resort for people in desperate situations but increased levels of redundancy and other financial issues linked to the current economy mean that the demand is becoming more widespread.
“Sadly, research has shown that one in 10 people in the North West have been forced to skip a meal, go without food or rely on family and friends for food in the last 12 months.”
Organisations involved include the Hope Centre, St Helens Citizens Advice Bureau, Helena Partnerships and a number of churches.
Produce is being stored at a Helena-owned venue in Eccleston.
Tesco St Helens also provided hundreds of cans and other dried foods to boost supplies following its ‘Help Feed People In Need’ campaign, which asked customers to purchase a few extra items as part of their weekly shop.
Councillor Sue Murphy, public health portfolio holder at St Helens Council, said: “This foodbank will be vital for many people in St Helens who are facing hard times due to recent Government cuts.
“We have got to be there to help and support these families and the foodbank will help us to do this.”
All recipients are referred to the foodbank by St Helens Citizens Advice Bureau, Helena Partnerships, Job Centre Plus, Housing Advice Centre or Hope House, with food packs collected from Hall Street Baptist Church and St Helens Christian Life Centre.
For more information, please contact Beryl Barton on 01744 26414 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.