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.
Margate Independent Foodbank Community Interest Company
Account Number: 99608188 Sort Code: 608371
Contact the foodbank
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or text 07443890082
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 https://www.facebook.com/StPBFollowingJesus/
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.
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
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 grasscliftonville.org
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.
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.