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Late benefits blamed as food bank is launched
2:50pm Friday 12th October 2012 in News
RISING food prices and diminishing benefit payments have led to a food bank scheme opening in Richmond.
Residents are seeking help from charities and church groups to put food on the table, often because of a delay in benefit payments.
Pastor Ben Dowding of the Influence Church, based in Victoria Road, has watched the demand for food parcels grow in the last few years.
Next month will see the launch of StoreHouse – a scheme to provide food on a regular basis to people in need – but the church also aims to address the longterm problems.
Mr Dowding said: “StoreHouse aims to give people basic emergency food supplies over an eightweek period, but also look into why they need it and work with agencies in the area to help them combat debt or unemployment.”
Richmond mayor, Coun Stuart Parsons, who supports the scheme, said he is seeing more people asking for help with housing, fuel or food costs.
“Richmond appears to be an affluent town, and of course in places it is - but people need to realise there is another side to it and there are lots of people struggling,” he said.
“The main problem is with changes to benefits because suddenly people are getting around £100 less a month, which is a lot if you are on a tight budget.”
StoreHouse, which launches in November, is already being supported by local churches, schools and organisations.
Coun Parsons added: “There’s another side to Richmondshire – it is very sad but we will get it sorted because we have to.”
Dennis Ramsey, interim manager of Hambleton and Richmondshire Citizens’ Advice Bureau, said: “We have had about 30 cases since April of people we would have referred to a food bank if there was one in the area.
“And cases of people coming to us with debt problems in the area are up by 40 per cent – I was surprised it was so high.
“It is definitely good news to hear about this food bank because it is needed.”
For more information or to donate visit influencechurch.co.uk/ storehouse or call (01748) 823161.
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