DEMAND for the help on offer at Swindon Foodbank in the New Year will be 25 per cent up on previous years, according to the charity’s project manager.

The bank is quiet over the Christmas and New Year period because agencies providing vouchers to those in need of support are closed, and unable to distribute.

However, the weeks before and after the festive season are a huge strain on resources.

As agencies reopen and begin vetting those in need, demand will skyrocket, according to chief David Hartridge. With the excesses of Christmas weighing heavily on bank balances, there are many who will face a crisis of bills over food.

“People are thinking Christmas is coming, how will I manage to feed all those mouths, with the kids off school, and so many bills,” he said.

“It was much busier than normal (ahead of Christmas), probably 25 per cent up year on year. This could be down to factors including an awareness that help is at hand. More and more people know the foodbank is there.

“Michael Gove seemed to dismiss the increase in usage simply being along the lines of more awareness.

“I am 100 per cent adamant people genuinely need more help.

“Unfortunately this is just a feature of the economic difficulties that individuals and families face today.

“There is absolutely no reason to think January’s not going to be any different to the rise seen in December.”

David has confidence in the agencies that interview and vet those who need help.

There is not a limitless supply of food for those who need it from the foodbank, he says. As ever, it relies hugely on donations and the generosity.

David did take time to thank all of those living and working in Swindon for their help in 2013. However, he also made it clear this help needed to continue into this year.

“We have been really blessed in the six to eight weeks before Christmas with some great supermarket collections,” said David.

“Right now our stock level is sufficient to maintain the level of support needed. We don’t have any short-term issues with any particular food currently.

“I anticipate that with our regular donations, plus the stock we are carrying over from the end of the year, there are no causes for concern in terms of meeting demand.

“We are really grateful for the support of the local population, who live and work here. We couldn’t do our job without the support people in Swindon.

“The time, food and cash donated is very important. My message is thank you for the support over the last year or so.

“Please, keep it up, because we see the need extending for the foreseeable future.”