Hundreds fill up at food bank thanks to generous donations
8:05pm Sat May 07, 2016
Hundreds of people continue to turn to Newark Food Bank for help to put meals on the table.
Latest figures show that the number using the food bank continued to rise during its third year.

The food bank helped 2,010 people, of which 1,338 were adults and 672 were children, and was able to provide enough food for 18,090 meals with 18.9 tonnes of supplies donated by the public.

The previous year it helped 1,894 people ­— 1,311 adults and 583 children.

In its first year it helped 1,342 ­— 884 adults and 458 children.

Mrs Lesley Marshall has been involved with the project since it was started in February 2013 with the aid of the Trussell Trust, which has helped with more than 400 food banks nationwide.

Mrs Marshall is now the manager and is helped by co-ordinators who look after the front of house, warehouse, transport, PR and fundraising and management.

She said some people were hesitant to go into the food bank, which operates from Barnbygate Methodist Church, Newark, but they were always greeted with a smile from the volunteers and made to feel welcome.

Everyone is offered a hot drink and biscuits and a sympathetic ear.

“Some people are embarrassed but there is no need to be,” Mrs Marshall said.

“People find themselves in need for all sorts of reasons.”

Those needing help are given a voucher, which is available from about 40 sources including GP surgeries, Women’s Aid, Homestart, family centres, job centres, and homeless charities.

The vouchers are taken to the food bank and exchanged for a selection of nutritionally-balanced food, which is enough to last for three days.

Mrs Marshall said they never knew who was going to go in for help so there were always plenty of supplies on hand.

Those helped by the food bank include a father who found himself looking after nine children after being left by his wife. Two of the children were still in nappies and he went to the food bank seeking help.

The charity also helped a man in his 50s who found his benefits had been stopped through no fault of his own. He had no money for food and no one to turn to.

“He was eventually well enough to return to work,” Mrs Marshall said.

“He came back to thank us and said that without our help he would not have survived.”

Mrs Marshall said people in Newark were always generous with their donations.

The supplies are taken to a central warehouse where they are sorted and kept until they are needed by the food bank, which has a small stock room.

As well as food essentials it can also help with nappies, wipes, baby food and toiletries.

Mrs Marshall said problems with benefits was a common reason for needing help.

Others struggled because of an unexpected bill that could not be covered by their low wages.

“We really want to help before they go into debt and the problem becomes much worse,” she said.

Newark Food Bank has about 90 volunteers, most of whom have been involved since the start.

Mr Angus Peterson said the only ones who had left had done so because of illness or their age.

“The volunteers feel there is a real need and are happy to help,” he said.

Collection points for donations are in Asda, Waitrose and Wilkinsons as well as many Newark area churches. Local businesses also help, including Cargill PLC.

Mrs Marshall said they would like to do more for the elderly and were looking for ways to work with Age UK.

The food bank is open on Tuesdays from 3pm to 5pm and Fridays from 1pm to 3pm.

It has merged with Tuxford Food Bank, which operates from the Methodist Church, Newcastle Street, from 10am to 1pm on Tuesdays.

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