Food donations are desperately needed for a Thanet volunteer project that helps people who are struggling to get by day to day.
Thanet Families in Need, which also runs a homelessness service, says stock in its food bank is critically low but demand for help is rising.
The non-profit organisation was set up in 2012 by Ramsgate mum-of-four Kerry Keating and relies entirely on donations and the goodwill of volunteers to keep running.
It offers a rough sleeper outreach service, providing bags containing essentials, sleeping bags and advice, worked with the Thanet Winter Shelter project, runs a soup kitchen and gives help through the food bank.
Kerry said: “We are trying to keep the food bank stocked up. People bring lots of things, like sleeping bags, but food donations have been low.
“Sometimes we are having to do a shop twice a week. Giving in the warmer months tends to go down but we are not seeing a drop in demand.
“We get people coming to us through referrals from service providers, such as Porchlight, and self-referrals through people who have seen the website or facebook page.
“Our criteria is that we judge each case on its own circumstance. We have a lot of working people coming to us. It’s shocking that we have people like NHS nurses and a health assistant, people who are saving lives, needing our service.
“It is mostly down to people’s rent costs and the lack of support from housing benefits for those who are working.
“The rise we are seeing in people needing the food bank is among those struggling with their rent rather than, say two years ago, when people were most likely to have been hit by benefit sanctions.
“Because there is such a huge demand for housing it seems landlords can charge higher prices and those affected have little support from local authorities because of the allowance levels set by national government.”
As well as professionals Thanet Families in Need is helping a whole range of people, from those who are single to large families.
Kerry said: “We get 8 to 10 people a day. One family we have helped because the husband was working but then became ill and his employers wanted something from the consultant before allowing sick pay.
“It means they were struggling. They have a child at Sandwich Tech but couldn’t afford to get them to school. We have been doing food parcels for them and are paying the school bus fare until they can get sorted out. They have eight people in that family.”
Items needed include non-perishables, such as tinned and packet food, dried goods like pasta and rice, cereals, long life milk and biscuits. A full list can be found on the Thanet Families in Need website (link below).
Unlike government assisted food banks the group does not limit help to a maximum of 3 times a year and aims to process requests within 24 hours.
Because stock is gathered through community donations Thanet Families in Need donates a maximum of 5 days worth of food a time applicable to the amount of people in the household.
They also help with clothing and household essentials.
Kerry, 33, said: “Everything we do is built on the community. Without everyone’s input Thanet Families in Need would not be here. It is about people helping people.”
Food bank details
The food bank is based at the Thanet Families in Need charity shop at 70a Queen Street. The shop is open from 11am to 4pm.
Donations can be taken to the shop, dropped off at 4 Plains of waterloo or by calling 07472459457457 .
There is also on online link for paypal donations . Find it here
To apply for help fill in the online form here
Call or text 07472 459459 – the charity will call you back
Find Thanet Families in Need on facebook here
Find the website, including a list of donations that would help, here
The housing picture
Savills property firm has forecast that across the UK rents will rise by 2.5% in 2017.
Property experts Landbank say average UK rents for one, two and three bed properties hit £1,012, £1,152 and £1,321 respectively in March 2017.
The average monthly rent in the private rental market for Kent, according to data from Kent County Council, for the year ending March 2016 was £793; this is below the average for England (£820).
According to the data gathered in May 2016 the average cost of renting one room in Thanet is £80.19. Costs are cheaper in the east of the county.
The data states the average rent for a 3-bed home from a private landlord in Thanet stood at £755 per month at the end of March 2016.
Standard Thanet rates now
A spokesman for Thanet rental agency Lets 11 said the average Thanet rent for a three-bed home ranges from £650 to £850 depending on location. The standard rate paid by the council for someone claiming housing benefit for a 3-bed home is £577.44 every 4 weeks. For a four-bed home the council pays £690.40 for four weeks.
The rate is £322.92 for a 1 bed, £466.08 for a 2 bed. Payment every four weeks meant confusion for some tenants who pay landlord by calendar month, added the spokesman.
Thanet council owns just over 3,000 properties. These are managed by East Kent Housing, an organisation that performs landlord duties for Thanet, Canterbury, Dover, and Shepway councils.
Other properties are available to rent at lower cost than market rent from various housing associations and other registered housing providers. There are approximately 4,000 of this type of home in Thanet today.
If you are over the age of 55, sheltered housing is available from various housing associations.
KCC data shows that as of April 2016 there were 1,518 people on Thanet council’s housing waiting list, compared to 1,443 for the same period in 2015 and a whopping 6,176 in 2013.
Of the people registered last year 772 needed one-bed accommodation, 365 needed a two-bed property, 256 needed 3 bedrooms, 106 needed four-bedrooms and 19 did not specify property size.
To apply for any of these homes, you must be on Thanet Council’s Housing Register.