A DAY centre for disabled adults has been found a new home in Mexborough — at the expense of the town’s busy foodbank.
Doncaster Council has confirmed the Smile service, which has been on hiatus since the lockdown, will move into the Willows Centre on Wath Road.
But the decision has come as a bitter blow to the team behind Mexborough Foodbank, who face squeezing into much smaller facilities on the same site — or shutting down.
Foodbank manager Sean Gibbons told the Weekender last month in how the council had tried to kick the foodbank out last winter but agreed to hold off after he protested that there was nowhere else for them to go.
Eight months on, the hunt for alternative premises is still going on — but the foodbank has been given until the end of September to get out or squeeze into a smaller room they currently use for storage.
“We have been given four weeks to get out, two weeks before the end of furlough and just before Universal Credit is reduced for some of the most vulnerable in our society, which is definitely going to cause a surge in people wanting our help,” Mr Gibbons said.
“We were already anticipating a hard winter but now we’ve got this to sort out with the Willows, too.
“They have offered us a smaller room in the Willows but that is full of donations of clothing, food and toys, so we will have to spend the next few weeks clearing that out.
“The room we’re using now is a good size for 80 to 100 people but the one we’re looking at you’d struggle to squash 12 into.
“We are still looking for other premises but it looks like we will have to close the foodbank down for at least a couple of weeks to try and get sorted out.
“In the long term, I don’t know what we are going to do.
“This news has come at the time we are still being inundated with referrals from DMBC and their partners, who are contacting us about people who need help.
“At the very least, this is going to cause disruption to our service and make things much more restrictive.”
Phil Holmes, Doncaster Council’s director of adults, health and wellbeing (DASS), said: “We’re really pleased to be able to fully open up the Smile day service at the Willows.
“This provides essential day support to Mexborough people with disabilities, also giving family members a break from caring responsibilities.
“Some haven’t had this support over the last year because of the pandemic.
“We’re also pleased to have been able to set some of the building aside for the foodbank which has been hosted temporarily in the Willows but is continuing to provide an important service at this difficult time.
“We’ve already asked the foodbank for information about their requirements which will either help us continue to support them in the Willows or assist them in finding a different local venue if that proves necessary.”