Demand overwhelming food bank

Parish administrator Lesley Raven with food donated to the food bank at St Mary's RC Parish Church, Leyland
Parish administrator Lesley Raven with food donated to the food bank at St Mary's RC Parish Church, Leyland

So many desperate families are turning to Leyland’s food bank for help that volunteers are having to spend church funds to keep stock up.

While plenty of donations are flooding in to fill food parcels each week, the town’s food bank is facing a crisis because there are just too many families depending on it now.

The operation runs from Leyland St Mary’s RC Parish Church in Broadfield Drive, and parish administrator Lesley Raven says they have seen a massive increase in the number of people turning up at the door for help.

“Last week we gave out 55 food parcels,” she said.

“We used to be able to give a couple of bags to families with more children, but now we’re having to limit each family to just one a week.

“We feel bad, because we’re working with the absolute minimum we can give people, but we’ve had to spent around £200 on food since Christmas because demand has increased so much.

“That’s come from church funds and donations, but the worry is we will have to start turning people away.

“We wouldn’t want to give any less than we already do - people are probably already begging from others, like family and friends, as well as coming to us.

“What we really need is more donations. It is absolutely essential to have this in Leyland.”

The scheme is run by Leyland Churches Together, and people can donate food to any of the town’s churches.

The food then gets sorted at St Mary’s by volunteers twice a week, and people can collect the parcels between 10am and noon midweek.

“It used to be that we only saw fairly poor people,” Lesley added.

“Leyland is not the richest of places. There are quite a lot of poor people; we’ve always been aware of that.

“But now we’re seeing a real mixed bag of people needing our help.

“Because of changes to the benefits system and food prices rising, we’re seeing more older people, and people who have maybe just been made redundant and are struggling to find work.

“Some people are really apologetic and embarrassed, but they’re desperate.

“Sometimes we get young people who don’t know where else to go, and they’re so appreciative of what we do here.”

Lesley adds: “Sometimes we only see people once or twice and the food bank just helps to tide them over, but we also see a lot of regulars.

“We get referrals from the Job Centre, health clinics, the council and support workers.

“It’s been these last couple of months when demand has really shot up though, and we’ve had to start buying in extra food.”

The volunteers are now looking for external funding to help keep the food bank’s stock up, as well as appealing to the public for more food donations.

- To donate food, toiletries or funds, visit Leyland St Mary’s Church any day of the week.