Morecambe foodbank use at all-time high

Photo Neil Cross: Annette Smith at Morecambe Bay Foodbank.
Photo Neil Cross: Annette Smith at Morecambe Bay Foodbank.

Demand for Morecambe Bay Foodbank is rising, shocking new figures have revealed.

Statistics provided by the Green Street centre, which dishes out food to needy people, showed that in 2014:

*The foodbank was used 3,184 times, including 1,107 by children, compared to 2,822 times in 2013 (996 by children)

*Use of the foodbank rose by 11% in the peak months (October, November, December) compared to the same period in 2013

*The foodbank had 986 unique adult users

*1,632 parcels of food were given out

*Delays in benefits was the biggest reason for needing to use the foodbank

*Three people have used the foodbank 10 times recently

The Green Street centre, which relies on donations from the public, took in 39.8 tonnes of food in 2014, 55% of which was from local supermarkets.

December was by far the busiest month for the Foodbank, which is based in the former Central Methodist Church in Morecambe and run by charity the Trussell Trust.

The figures were unveiled as a row rumbles on between the foodbank and Morecambe MP David Morris. Mr Morris is under increasing pressure to meet with volunteers at the foodbank, which opened in 2012, after claiming during a debate in Parliament on food poverty that he’d never been invited.

Annette Smith, co-ordinator of Morecambe Foodbank, wrote to Mr Morris on December 30 inviting him to visit the foodbank, and claimed she had asked him to visit on four previous occasions.

Mr Morris denied he had received any formal invitation, and said he would visit the foodbank once he’d received “full and accurate figures” and if the chairman or chief executive of the Trussell Trust and the head of social services for Lancaster went with him.

Mr Morris, a Conservative, said: “I know that the Trussell Trust in my area and nationally have links to the Labour party.

“I am not prepared to go to Morecambe Foodbank without any correct figures for a party political meeting on behalf of the Labour party. I want to have a meaningful conversation with the Trussell Trust about why people in my constituency are using the foodbank and if this is increasing I want to know why and I want to go back to Government and see where they can help.”

Mrs Smith said: “It is essential that all foodbanks have connections with their Government representatives in order to address the reasons why we are needed in the first place.

“Although individual client details are confidential, we can and do provide these statistics to those who ask.A visit to our foodbank would demonstrate first-hand the validity of our records and provide all the information that Mr Morris has asked for.”

Morecambe Bay Foodbank provides food parcels to people referred to them by agencies including the Citizen’s Advice Bureau and children’s centres. Parcels contain provision for three days at a minimum of three meals a day.

Main areas using foodbank

Poulton 28.83%

Harbour (includes West End) 13.03%

Heysham North 9.64%

Westgate 6.38%

Skerton West 5.5%

Main reasons given for using food bank

Benefit delays 40.83%

Low income 18.47%

Benefit changes 17.05%

Homeless 2.17%

Sickness 1.85%

(Other 13.79%)

Places referring people to foodbank the most

Citizens Advice Bureau 39.58%

Morecambe Foyer 11.76%

Poulton and Heysham Children’s Centres 11.7%

Help Direct 10.78%

Homestart 5.15%

(Other 21.02%)