DAVE Watts is challenging Prime Minister David Cameron to visit a foodbank in St Helens to hear the stories of desperate hardship being faced by families.

The St Helens North MP believes the growing dependency on foodbanks is an illustration of how many more people are being sucked in to poverty.

He likened the free supplies of groceries to 1930s soup kitchens, where meals were dished out to struggling families during the Great Depression.

Watts raised the subject during a debate in the House of Commons and after visiting the St Helens Foodbank depot, has wrote directly to Mr Cameron.

Watts told the Star: “I raised the question about these food banks propping up all over the place, which I think is a bad sign.

“I understand the generosity of people around the country but I never thought I would live in a day when people are being so degraded.

“I spoke to a woman from Newton-le-Willows who walked all the way to the foodbank in St Helens because she had no money to feed her children.

“She couldn’t afford the bus fare to get there. I want to try and press Cameron to visit a foodbank to talk to people who are doing the jobs there and hear some of the harrowing stories and the circumstances some of these people are facing.

“I spoke to other people who have worked all their lives but, after losing their job and being unable to find another, are now using a foodbank.

“I thought we had the welfare state where people who have paid in to the system can take something out. They should not have to be degraded likes this.

“People keep calling them food banks – but to me it is very similar to the soup kitchens of the 1930s, where poor people had to go because they no choice.

“It is just depressing – and the Tories seem to think it is some kind of ‘big society’ when it is raised.

“I certainly think there is a case of poverty levels rising in St Helens – and that is only going to get worse because of benefits changes.”

In December the Star reported how donations were rolling in for the St Helens Foodbank.

People who may be considered for food donations are referred by agencies including St Helens Citizens Advice Bureau, Helena Partnerships, Job Centre Plus, Housing Advice Centre or Hope House.

Food packs are collected from Hall Street Baptist Church and St Helens Christian Life Centre - but recipients must have been approved and given a voucher by one of the agencies.