Foodbank demand soars - and manager warns: "The real crisis is yet to come"
Since April, first-time users make up over half the people presenting vouchers for food at Rotherham Foodbank’s Hope Centre on Grove Road, off Moorgate.
That, said Steve, should sound a warning about how tough times will get as the post-coronavirus recession bites.
“Had it not been for the generosity of supermarkets like Morrisons and Tesco, and the superb efforts of our local Rotherham Sitwell Rotary Club and their umbrella group Rotary4foodbanks, we would be facing a real dilemma,” he said.
“Because of their donations of vital supplies, our shelves are reasonably stocked to see us through the summer.
“But it will be in the autumn, as furloughs end and redundancies kick in, as the homeless are no longer housed in hotels, that the real scale of the hunger issue will hit home.”
In 2012, when the foodbank first opened its doors, it fed just 124 people.
By 2015 the number had increased to 2,338 and last year, it had more than doubled again to 4,869 with over 42 tonnes of food distributed to support some of the most vulnerable in the Rotherham community.
Steve (pictured above with his daughter) said he and his team of up to 12 volunteers were always looking for cash and food donations to support their work in the town.
Meanwhile, the Rotherham Food for People in Crisis Partnership, which brings together several public and voluntary organisation to help people deal with emergency situations, hailed a “true show of community spirit” after a flood of donations.
Donations from local businesses Victrex and Roy Hatfield Ltd, as well as members of the public, have been pooled together to cumulate in a “fantastic” supply of food to support Rotherham foodbanks, said Voluntary Action Rotherham.
Teresa Brocklehurst of VAR, who is chairperson of the partnership, said: “We have been blown away by the generosity of the people of Rotherham — workers, volunteers, members of the public and business people alike — who have worked together to provide emergency support to those in need.
“The donations we have received have provided food to people who desperately need it.
“There has been a true show of community spirit from business and individuals who are all playing their part to ensure these vital foodbanks have everything they need to deliver food parcels in this unprecedented time.”
Polymer maker Victrex plc donated food and essentials worth over £250 and recycling firm Roy Hatfield Ltd chipped in more than £800-worth.
The public have also donated cash to pay for “priority” food items identified by Rotherham charities and support groups for their foodbanks, Teresa said.
Donations can be made by donating to the “People in Need (VAR)” account, with sort code 60-83-01 and account number 20298847.