SHOCKING new figures show that nearly 200 hungry children have received emergency hampers from the St Helens Foodbank in the last six months.
Stark new statistics reveal that 189 children have had to be fed by the local foodbank since its launch in October last year, along with 328 desperate adults.
More than 4,000kg of food has been distributed to needy people across the borough in that time as the demand for the foodbank’s emergency three-day food hampers continues to rise.
A six-monthly report delivered to a meeting at St Helens Town Hall last week revealed benefit delays, low income and debt as the three most common crises felt by people in St Helens.
Most foodbank vouchers have been distributed to people living in Parr and the town centre, with the highest number of vouchers handed to single people.
But plans are already in place to create new foodbank “hubs” - in addition to the ones at the Christian Life Centre and at St Helens Baptist Church - in Earlestown and Parr.
Local churches, which joined forces with the Trussell Trust to help launch the foodbank, continue to receive food donations on a weekly basis and one-off donations have also been made by the likes of local businesses, the Rotary Club and Asda.
And there are fears that demand for emergency hampers could rise sharply as a result of the Government’s benefits changes.
Just last month the Reporter revealed how a desperate new mum was forced to turn to the St Helens foodbank for help as she left Whiston Hospital with her newborn child.
The astonishing revelation was uncovered by council leader Marie Rimmer, who blamed the young mum’s plight on Government cuts, which she branded “sick, evil and immoral”.
As a result, Whiston and St Helens Hospitals are now among 42 organisations authorised to hand out vouchers, allowing patients they believe are at risk to access the foodbank.
Coun Rimmer said: “This poor mum was leaving hospital and had no food to go home to. She had a baby in one hand and a food voucher in the other. Can anyone justify that?
“The foodbank was also contacted by a young father over Christmas who had no baby food for his newborn child. And this will just be the tip of the iceberg.
“There’s something really sick in our society when millionaires are being given tax breaks and desperate parents are having to contact the foodbank to feed their children.
“It’s mums that need looking after, not millionaires.”
To donate non-perishable, in-date food, or to volunteer at the St Helens Foodbank, contact the Hope Centre on 01744 26414 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org