Harrogate foodbank is running out of items and needs your help

Harrogate District Foodbank needs help to meet rising demand over the summer, reporting that some items are running out as families struggle to cope with the strain and pressures of the school holidays.
Harrogate District Foodbank needs help to meet rising demand over the summer, reporting that some items are running out as families struggle to cope with the strain and pressures of the school holidays.

Harrogate District Foodbank needs help to meet rising demand over the summer, reporting that some items are running out as families struggle to cope with the strain and pressures of the school holidays.

The foodbank's project manager, Lucy Stewart, said the absence of free school meals during this period means that parents need to find five extra meals a week per child - a cost which quickly escalates if there are multiple siblings.

Food items and fundraising support is needed by the foodbank to ensure that no families in our district go hungry - donations have historically fallen over the summer, at a time when generosity is most needed.

Lucy said: "The summer holidays are obviously the longest time children have off school, and there are other financial pressures on families over the summer as well as paying for food.

"If parents are working, they have to find the extra money for childcare costs as well as the extra meals, which all adds up. If a family is living at the end of their means, and they are just about managing to make ends meet, they don't have surplus income to be saving throughout the year for these pressure points."

Nationally, the summer sees a 19 per cent increase in foodbank usage, and Harrogate is no exception to experiencing rising demand.

Despite awareness of foodbanks becoming more widespread, there are still families who are suffering in silence due to the stigma that they still feels exist around taking that first step to access support.

Lucy said: "To use the foodbank, you have to speak to someone - whether that's your GP, school teacher, social services, church leader, or potentially a stranger in an organisation, and explain that you're not coping for them to issue you with a voucher.

"It's a big thing to admit, and people aren't good at asking for help because it makes us seem and feel vulnerable.

"They might feel like they might be judged or not treated kindly when they come in to the centre. This is not the case. Once people come in, our volunteers treat each person with respect, dignity and kindness."

After families have visited the foodbank for the first time, it gets easier to return, Lucy said.

She said: "People often come in very quietly, with little or no eye contact - tearful and ashamed, but the team work with them and they leave us with bags of food and their head a little higher with some dignity restored.

"Once people have been to see us once, if they need our help again, they come in with more confidence about the experience, and they greet the volunteers like old friends - and the volunteers do likewise.

"We don't just give food, we give time and conversation, and friendship and signposting to other places where they could access help and assistance."

With an increase in use of the foodbank over the last few years, two more part time members of staff have been taken on, and the foodbank has had to move to a larger warehouse to accommodate the large volumes of stock needed.

This has increased running costs and expenses significantly, so the foodbank is looking for Harrogate companies and individuals who would like to give financial support.

The foodbank's website has an up to date list of which food items are needed, and information about how to get in touch. Click here to visit their website.