SWINDON Foodbank is to expand its operation to West Swindon after a soaring demand over the past year.
With distribution points currently serving some of the areas of highest need, managers of the service are looking to set up a series of satellite stations where those from further afield can have access without travelling very far.
The new distribution point will be based at Freshbrook Church, and is due to open next Tuesday.
David Hartridge, project manager at Swindon Foodbank, said new centres were vital to provide help to people in need across the town.
“There are two reasons why we have decided to expand,” he said. “Demand last year was up by 22 per cent, and we expect that trend to continue this year.
“For some time it has been our desire to open up something cemented in the community and relevant to the community, so people in West Swindon do not have the financial burden of having to get into town, and the physical burden of having to carry home bags of food.”
Andrew Hill, of Swindon Foodbank, has been overseeing the launch of the new centre.
“In the back of our minds during the recent busy period we have been thinking about reaching out to more people, because we want to be seen on people’s doorsteps if they need us,” he said.
“One of the main reasons for this location is if you live in West Swindon and get a voucher from the Job Centre for a family of four or five, you are looking at carrying 25 to 30 kilogrammes of food home with you from our nearest collection point. Clearly it is going to be a nightmare for those people trying to get food home.
“We open three times a week in the same place in the centre of town, and failing that people would have to go to Penhill or Park South.
“We hope to open up more satellite distribution centres over the next 12 months. “If you look at the council data we happen to be in the areas with most service need, but if you take places like Toothill and Shaw they tend to be the next greatest area of need.
“What we suspect will happen this year is general growth and increasing sanctions as a result of universal credit. “With those factors together we would be surprised if demand was not to grow even higher this year.”
While the current distribution points require an employee on hand at all times, the new satellite centres will be run entirely by the 50 to 60 regular volunteers.
“When we reach out to communities we need to be there for people in crisis,” added Andrew. “We need to get into peripheral villages and towns like Wroughton and Highworth which we can’t currently serve.”
The West Swindon foodbank will be open at Freshbrook Church every Tuesday from next week between 2.30pm and 4.30pm.