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Calls for food parcel service for the poor
THE plight of a Ledbury man who went hungry for five months after his benefits were cut has inspired Ledbury’s deputy mayor Tony Bradford to support the idea of a food parcel service for the poor and vulnerable.
Paul Knapman, of Foley House, had his benefits completely cut in November, after he failed to sign on because of flu.
The 60-year-old found himself relying for months on occasional meals from friends and his landlord.
Mr Knapman, who is now on a computer course in a bid to secure work, said: “Living was very difficult. You get past hungry.”
Keen to avoid others finding themselves in a similar situation, Coun Bradford plans to formally make his proposal at the next meeting of the town’s environment and leisure committee on Thursday, May 24.
He estimates up to 200 people in the town and surrounding areas might benefit, and local supermarkets could be approached to donate food.
“The idea is to get basic food parcels and perhaps use the community centre as a distribution point,” he said.
Meanwhile, Jackie Boyes, the Diocese of Hereford’s social responsibility officer, is offering to come to Ledbury to meet and assist any groups, including churches, who are willing to set up a food parcel service.
She said: “I know several people in Ledbury including churchgoers are looking to set up a ‘community larder’.
We set up a community larder in Hereford three or four years ago, and there’s one in Ross and one in Leominster.
“If there is a need in Ledbury, and I’m sure there will be, I will come and talk to people.”
Both town councillor Chris Ridler and Ledbury’s mayor, Allen Conway, welcomed the likely involvement of the church.
Coun Ridler said: “We should facilitate bringing people together for this, but stand back from actually running it.”
Mr Knapman’s landlord Neil Jenkins is also backing the scheme, having seen first-hand the difficulties his tenant faced and helped him to get his benefits restored.
“I would not dream of turning Paul out,” he said.
“One day Paul could not get out of bed, he was so weak. I was frightened that I would knock on his door and find him dead.”
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