Updated: Saturday, 16th November 2019 @ 3:17pm

‘Overwhelmed’: Oldham food bank thanks residents and businesses for generosity as economic gloom thickens

‘Overwhelmed’: Oldham food bank thanks residents and businesses for generosity as economic gloom thickens

By Andrew Bardsley

An Oldham food bank has been ‘overwhelmed’ by the amount of donations they received over the festive period, as demand swelled.

The project on Clegg Street experienced its first Christmas after first opening in May 2013, and distributed 1,792kg of food to those in crisis in Oldham during December.

In 2011-12 food banks fed 128,687 people nationwide, 100% more than the previous year, and there are over 250 food banks in the UK.

Angie, 52, a volunteer at the food bank said: “The generosity of people in Oldham is fantastic, from little old ladies who donate the odd thing to children who have given us their Christmas money.

“Christmas is a time when people think about others who are less fortunate than themselves and we have experienced this feeling with the amount of donations received.”

Schools, businesses, churches and individuals have all contributed non-perishable items that can be passed onto those in need.

Estate agents Ryder and Dutton, Chadderton Football Club and St Mary’s Church, Greenfield are just a few of the organisations who have helped.

The project is run by a hard-core group of 12 volunteers who help to sort through the food donated ready for collection.

She added: “We are all exhausted after the festive period but we are still giving out selection boxes to children and that helps us to keep going.”

Food vouchers are issued to those identified as experiencing a food crisis, which will entitle them to three days’ worth of emergency food.

The numbers of people using the food bank and the diversity of people who have visited was also a surprise to Angie.

“We get professional people and suits in but also the amount of tradesmen who visit is astonishing, people who you thought would never need help from charity.”

Set up by the Trussell Trust, a Christian organisation which aims to combat poverty and injustice, Oldham food bank has crossed religious barriers.

“As we are a Christian organisation its really heart-warming when people of other faiths visit, and we have had some of the Asian community and we try to give them some halal food.”

This comes as Chris Steward, a Conservative councillor in York, suggested that no-one was starving in the UK, and food banks were becoming more in demand because poorer people failed to manage their budgets effectively.

“It’s a blanket statement and that’s always the case with politicians. We deal with people with mental health issues, those using alcohol and drug services people who need help.”

In her 2012 Annual Report, Councillor Jean Stretton, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Devolved Services praised the work of the group.

She said: “It is an unfortunate fact of life that everyday there are people going hungry in our communities through no fault of their own – redundancy, a mistake in the benefit system, family breakdown, ill health amongst many reasons. 

“The volunteers who run Oldham Foodbank do a fantastic job providing people with emergency food when they are sent there by the Job Centre, GPs, social workers schools and other frontline agencies. 

“Oldham people supporting other Oldham people through times of hardship.”

The group is urging people to BOGOF – that is Buy One Give Oldham Food bank – and donate tins and cans which may be bought on offer in supermarkets and otherwise wasted.

For more information visit http://oldham.foodbank.org.uk or call 0161 622 1061.

Picture courtesy of Trussell Trust via YouTube, with thanks.

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