A NEW food bank has secured premises in Worksop as its base to help people who can’t afford to feed their families.
The Bassetlaw Food Bank Project is a collaboration between community organisations, local churches, and the volunteer sector to give people a helping hand when they need it most.
The food bank, which is currently under the umbrella of homeless charity Hope, has worked closely with Bassetlaw District Council to secure the new site at Lowtown Street for a ‘peppercorn rent’.
The new premises, which have stood empty since February 2008, will be used to store food before it is distributed to those people who need it.
“The need for a food bank was showed by Hope, when we were approached by various agencies to give out free food to people in crisis,” said Sandy Smith, from Hope.
“So some local groups got together and we decided that we needed to do something about it.”
The food bank steering group hopes the premises will be fully up and running by April next year - just as a new round of benefits cuts and changes to Council Tax payments begins to bite.
“We are already seeing an increase in people coming for food parcels and it is only going to get worse as time goes on,” said Sandy.
“People are finding themselves struggling for lots of reasons. Because of a reduction in their benefits, through losing their jobs or because they have no savings.”
“We have already spoken to some big companies and can get hold of plenty of food. We have also had lots of stuff donated.”
People who are in need of help will have to be referred to the bank by local agencies such as social services, and probation and won’t simply be able to turn up and ask for help.
“It will be run by volunteers so other agencies will have to decide who gets referred to us,” said Sandy.
“We are talking to those agencies at the moment and we are using a real partnership approach to try and solve this problem.”
“We have to make sure there are safeguards in place so that only people who need it are coming to us for help.”
“But this should be seen as a hand up rather than a hand out. It is to help during an emergency and to help people to get back on their feet,” she added.
The decision to support the project was made by Bassetlaw District Council’s Cabinet at a meeting last week.
Speaking at the meeting, Council Leader Simon Greaves: said: “It’s a sad state of affairs when as a district we have food banks being established, and a sign of how hard things are for some of our residents.”
“But it is absolutely right that as an authority we do what we can to help the food bank project.”
Coun Keith Isard supported the project and praised local people for their generosity.
He added: “People in towns and villages in Bassetlaw have shown their generosity, and proved that several thousand pounds can be raised within days.”
“People are prepared to put their hands in their pockets and fulfil what I understand is a target of 20 tonnes, in such a small part of the county.”
To give any food or essentials to the project, donations can be left in the box in the sanctuary of The Crossing on Newcastle Street in Worksop.