SWINDON Foodbank is set to offer support services along with food in the near future, following the introduction of a scheme to help tackle debt and financial difficulties

The Trussell Trust branch of foodbanks, which operates the Whitbourne Avenue charity, has received a £600,000 grant which will enable them to provide links to financial and household budgeting advice in-house.

Volunteers from the charity have received training in how to signpost service users to much-needed financial services as they help them out with food boxes.

This will include lessons on how to use a government benefits calculator and appointment booking with the Citizen’s Advice Bureau and how to navigate the National Debt Line

Foodbank project manager Cher Smith said the team wanted to give people confidence and knowledge through the Money Life scheme, known as the Martin Lewis initiative

She said: “Our motto is more than just food.

“We ultimately want to stop there being a need for the foodbank, people should only visit once or twice and if we can offer them a gateway to a service that enables them to learn more about their finances then we are helping take the pressure off them.

“We want them to break out of the cycle and be able to stand up for themselves and know what they are entitled to.

“We hope this will give people the confidence and the know-how to do that.”

“The foodbank is not designed to be a permanent solution, it’s there as a temporary ease in an emergency.

“Government websites are notoriously difficult to use and we are making it easier and accessible for people who come to use our services, It also helps people get what is rightfully theirs which they may have been missing out on before.

“It will hopefully put an end to money worries.”

The Swindon foodbank currently operates a referral service where customers can receive free advice from partners such as debt counselling service Christians Against Poverty and charity Citizens Advice.

Martin Lewis, the financial guru behind moneysavingexpert.com teamed up with the Trussell Trust to launch the new scheme.

The Foodbank is facing increasing demand. Last year, the Swindon Foodbank provided food packages for 4,000 people, 1,600 of which were children

Cher said she hoped the new scheme would alleviate struggles faced by foodbank users.

“People can feel segregated and this is about sitting them down, having a relaxed chat with a cup of tea and telling them what options are available such as the welfare calculator which will really help people out in the long-term.”

According to charity Turn2Us £16.6 billion in benefits and tax credits go unclaimed each year

The Swindon Foodbank hope to roll-out the new service from next month.

For information on how to donate to Swindon Foodbank call 07932 108732 or visit swindonfoodbank.co.uk