FOOD for those struggling to make ends meet will be taken to them rather than them being forced to travel, as Swindon Foodbank continues to open satellite centres.
After expanding its operation into West Swindon with a distribution point in Freshbrook, the volunteer-run charity is now bringing its generosity to Wroughton with a new satellite centre at the Church Hall on Priors Hill.
David Hartridge, project manager for Swindon Foodbank, said: “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 their doorsteps if they need us.
“It is about making contacts in the local community rather than expecting them to come to us in the town centre.
“We are part of a network that extends nationally, but we have to make sure it is available on people’s doorsteps.
“The point at Wroughton will be open from 2pm to 4pm every Wednesday afternoon to give people in the area the opportunity to come see us.”
Andrew Hill, of the foodbank, said: “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.”
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,” said Andrew.
“We need to get into more peripheral villages and towns like Wroughton and Highworth.”
The news comes as the foodbank expects demand to rise this year with further benefits changes and sanctions.
David said: “From the beginning of April last year to the beginning of March, we have fed more than 6,000 people, which is 16 per cent up year on year. Other foodbanks have had stronger growth but they have not been going for nearly as long as us.
“The fact we are continuing to feed more people indicates quite clearly there is still a need.”
“About 31 per cent of all the vouchers are as a result of benefit delays, and a further 17 per cent from benefit changes, “That means nearly half of all vouchers are given out as a result of something going differently in the world of benefits.
“There are likely to be further cuts in benefits over the next 12 to 15 months and there will be an increase in people who are unable to pay essential bills or buy food.
“That is not opinion, that is the result of conversations with Swindon Council and Citizens Advice.
“We will continue to meet the demand that the clients put on us as long as the people of Swindon are able to provide us with the food.”