Huge hike in demand at Margate Independent Food Bank leads to ‘perfect storm’ fears for winter

Darryn and John from Margate Independent Food Bank

A huge hike in people asking for food parcels coupled with the end of government funded aid for supplies will create “the perfect storm,” says Margate Independent Food Bank director John Finnegan.

The independent food bank, based at Union Church, was set up in June by John and Darryn De La Soul, who had been working with the St Austin and St Gregory’s food parcels delivery service.

The duo, and volunteers, linked up with Sharon Goodyer of Our Kitchen on the Isle of Thanet to help with access to supplies.

Despite an easing of the most stringent covid restrictions and the return to work for many, demand is rising.

Last week the team delivered 82 parcels and gave out 140 from the church – a rise of 25% on the week before.

John said: “There is a perfect storm coming unless something is done now. I have been at the forefront of running a food bank since before the start of the Coronavirus, first with St Austin and St Gregory’s, and what we did there was amazing, it was just a shame we saw the future differently.

“I have said ever since the beginning of us setting up Margate Independent Foodbank we have not got over this pandemic yet. I could not see why other groups were cutting back.

“I am worried we may have to go to a full second lockdown before Christmas and this will cause very serious problems on a number of accounts. We will not have Ramsgate Town Council stepping up to the plate (with isle wide distribution) like they did last time; the time of year and the weather; the need for volunteer drivers and (falling) support from TDC / KCC and the Government.

“We are part of FareShare, which takes good quality surplus food from across the food industry and gets it to frontline charities and community groups. Up until up September 30 they get help from the government which they passed on to all food banks, but then that stops and there is nothing yet to replace it.”

Food parcels are supposed to be for those in need in Margate, Westgate, Birchington, Garlinge, Salmestone, Cliftonvlle,. Dane Valley, Westbrook but volunteers find they are also being asked for help in Ramsgate, Broadstairs and St Peters.

John said: “We don’t like turning families away but the day when we have to is likely to come because we will not be able to cope without support and financial help from somewhere.”

The hike in demand is partly due to the growing number of people needing to claim benefits such as Universal Credit due to increasing redundancies as furlough aid is reduced.

More than a fifth of the Thanet working age population are now claiming Universal Credit and the isle has the highest number of claimants – 18,397 or 22% as of July – of any of the Kent and Medway districts.

In March there were  11,526 UC claimants but the impact of the Covid pandemic has contributed to that figure rising by almost 7,000 in just four months.

Margate Independent Food Bank is based at  Union Methodist Church, Union Row, Margate and is open on Tuesday and Thursday 10.15am to 12.45pm

Donate to the foodbank

Donating £5 will help feed two families for one week.
Donating £10 will help feed four families for one week.
Donating £20 will help feed eight families for one week.

Starling Bank.

Margate Independent Foodbank Community Interest Company

Account Number: 99608188 Sort Code: 608371

Contact the foodbank

Email [email protected] or text 07443890082

Find Margate Independent Food Bank on facebook here

Help across the isle

Thanet Food Link

There may be some relief in demand from St Peter’s with a new food bank service opening in the area last week.

The service has been launched by Thanet Food Link and runs every Friday, 10.30am-noon, at St Peter’s Baptist Church.

Vouchers are needed to access the service, contact Kate Grant on 07385 290358 for details. Donations are also needed. Find details on The Baptist Church facebook page at

Thanet Food Link runs its main service at St Paul’s Church in Northdown Road, every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 10.30am – 12 noon. People need to bring a voucher (now obtainable from St Paul’s Church if you can’t get one elsewhere) to obtain a food parcel and distribution is by minimal personal contact.

Find the service on facebook here

The Gap Project- Broadstairs, Queens Road, Broadstairs

The Gap Project says during lockdown they were delivering 20-25 food parcels a day and there is still an urgent need.

They also run a  drop-in centre for the homeless. This is open twice a week and usually sees 15-20 foodbags dispensed.

Tues and Fri – 2pm – 4pm

Find The Gap Project on facebook here

GRASS Voucher Scheme

The GRASS Voucher Scheme is designed to help individuals and families affected by Covid-19 and living in the Cliftonville West area. Organised by GRASS, the scheme seeks to provide an Aldi supermarket voucher for people struggling in the current economic climate – specifically it is for those who have slipped through the net and are unable to access aid or grant support provided by the Government.

The voucher enables customers to purchase food and household items to the value of £25 per week – meaning essential groceries can be purchased according to specific need. Applicants are means-tested and there is provision for around 20 applicants per week. Contact  077 6191 6654 or visit

Salvation Army – 167 High Street, Ramsgate

Organiser Carl Whitewood says the amount of collections has doubled since last year.

Tuesdays and Fridays 10am – noon and others times by arrangement.

Email [email protected]

Call: 07900 49 73 26

Newington Big Local

The Community Food Club run by Newington Big Local offers food and provisions to households across Newington, Margate, Ramsgate and Westgate.

Cara and her team offer food bags for £5 twice a week (Mondays and Thursdays) and encourage collection if possible. People are given a collection time to facilitate social distancing and to ensure that the operation is Covid-secure.

NBL are still doing some deliveries predominantly in Newington.

Find out more on the facebook page or call the  community centre on 01843 607079 (between 9am and 10am on Monday or Thursday).

Our Kitchen on the Isle of Thanet

The kitchen had been distributing food parcels and working with other organisations. It is now running a social food club at a premises in Margate High Street.

This is a scheme for affordable food goods.

Our Shop, at 51 High Street, is open Tuesday – Saturday, 10am- 3pm.

To find out more, or to register for the social food club shop, find Our Kitchen on the Isle of Thanet facebook page here


  1. The more you provide free food for people the more scroungers will ask for it …it’s hardly surprising demand increases when hard workers see those who don’t get food for nothing, is it ?

    • We haven’t seen any scroungers asking for food, only those who really need it. Lucky for you that you don’t need it at present, but I would not even call you a scrounger if you ever need help with food yourself. There has been a long history of those who have all they need to call those who don’t scroungers, which is really just uneducated nonesense. How would you then feel if the tables suddenly changed? Most of the volunteers who help out have had some sort of challenge in life that has brought them to have compassion towards others going through these difficult times, if you have not been there then you are one of the fortunate. Many of the people you call scroungers have fallen through no fault of their own, the pandemic has seen a rise in people losing their jobs and trying to claim benefits which is no easy task. All of them were hard workers beforehand so your disdain is unwarranted and unpleasant.
      We are lucky in Thanet that there are so many lovely people and businesses out there willing to help out and give their time, money, food, hygeine products, to help others in need.

      • Most people generally need it. What about all the druggies and alcoholics who spend all their money on drugs and drink? Suppose Thanet had none of these. Yes it’s an addiction but most don’t want help. I’ve seen the same man begging outside Aldi asking for spare change and days later going into Batchelors Patisserie, which is not a cheap shop. To avoid this people should prove what they bought shopping or else always be the same. Let’s go and get 24 cans, 80 cigarettes and some skunk because someone will provide my food.

  2. Kevin, lucky for those in need dont rely on you, you want people to starve to death. Shame on you

  3. Well said BARRY & JOHN.

    Kevin, I suspect there may well be the odd one or two, who do abuse the system, but the vast majority are in real need of help.

  4. The comment section on the IOTnews is far more empathetic and heart warming than on the kentonline which is frankly a disgrace.

    It’s amazing how Thanet is pulling together to help each other. To label people as scroungers is a disappointing uneducated response to this story and shows how out education system fails many.

    Keep up the good work all those involved.

  5. Unfortunately, the food situation is not helped by the morons stripping the supermarket shelves of pasta, flour and even, for some reason, bog rolls.

    I took my 93 year old father shopping last week. He was lucky I spotted one pack of pasta at the back of the bottom shelf. There were only a few small packs of toilet rolls left so he had one of those too.

    When we went to the car park, we passed a Range Rover with a boot full of shopping. On top sat 54 toilet rolls. (There may have been others I could not see). There was no driver or passenger in the car so I assume they had gone back for more.

    My father commented that it was rather ironic that whilst he was a war-time evacuee on a farm, one of his tasks was to tear the Farmers’ Weekly into squares and hang them on the nail in the outside loo. He may soon be reduced to the same thing with his current newspaper . . .

    • During the last Lockdown I was told that six rolls of toilet tissue was being sold on Ebay for £30.00, don’t know if it was true!

  6. Indeed the greedy folk take more than fair share and forget we are still in pandemic.
    Tories are the biggest scroungers £300 a day expenses and earning over £134k in expenses. That’s real scrounging off all tax payers.

    Years ago we had a hand out my mum was embarrassed. My dad left 2 children to fend for themselves. She never asked for handouts. She went without meals so we had food. She is a good generous cook.

    Must admit my cat once scrounged out of my bin he was intent on that chicken bone. My cats are very well fed but wanted a chicken bone.

  7. If I hosted a fundraising quiz at Lesters. Would you come along a support it? We have dates available early November. This will be socially distanced and in line with Government Covid Rules. Any organisers of food banks please call me on 07814306664 if interested in a fundraising evening.

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