SWINDON Food Collective says it expects "more and more" people to use its service after an "exceptional year" in 2021.

It comes as the council announced a 2.99 per cent rise in council tax and the expectation to do so again for the next two years after that.

With other increases from other authorities, it amounts to at least £55 hike in this year's bill.

Cher Smith MBE, manager of Swindon Food Collective, said referrals to the food bank have been steadily rising for several years as more and more people cannot pay their bills.

And the increase in council tax, combined with rising inflation, fuel prices and a planned National Insurance bump in April, makes her believe this will only worsen the picture in the town.

Swindon Advertiser: Cher Smith MBE, manager of the Swindon Food CollectiveCher Smith MBE, manager of the Swindon Food Collective

Cher added that the people using the service now increasingly includes those in employment.

"Sometimes those using our service are employed and they are just having an emergency, sometimes it is people on benefits, but a lot of people coming to us are working.

"With fuel prices going up and council tax and food prices and national insurance, we anticipate more and more people needing us than ever before".

In 2021, the collective provided 78,610 meals to 7,468 people.


The food donations amounted to 91.6 tonnes being sorted through the warehouse and 99.4 tonnes of food distributed to those in need,

It shows a sharp increase on 2020 when 83.8 tonnes were distributed.

This was also up from the year before - with between 65 and 70 tonnes of food distributed in 2019.

These figures do not include the people fed via Top Up bags, Extras, Hampers and the bulk donations made to the young people residing at The Foyer, the homeless at Great Western Hotel, Booth House, Swindon Caring Hearts and through the Home from Hospital bags and SBC Homeless Outreach Emergency bags.

More than 100 families were also helped during the summer school holidays with weekly food boxes.

In December 2021 alone the collective fed 1,145 people through its distribution centres alone, of which 26 per cent were children below the age of 16.

Recently the food bank also had had 15 referrals (24 adults with five children) from Wiltshire Warm and Safe due to fuel poverty and Cher said "this is becoming a reason for more people to get referrals to us from other agencies too".

For more information on how to either donate to the collective or use its services, go to swindonfoodcollective.org.

It currently needs supplies of coffee (100gms), sugar (small bags), tinned fruit, tinned potatoes, long-life juice (Ltr) and bottles of squash (500ml).