Demand for Ledbury Food Bank has risen by 50% in a year as the cost of living crisis impacts local families.

Food bank organisers say increasing fuel prices and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have both had an effect on the service - and are worried things will get even worse after the summer.

They say the food bank, which is based on the Homend Trading Estate, supported 80 households in April - an increase of 50% compared to this time last year - and that there has been a steady increase since September 2021.

Volunteers report helping new visitors every week, with many different reasons given for visiting the food bank.

Mark Lister, chairman of the Lead Team at the food bank, said people are visiting because of debt, loss of employment, difficulties with benefits and more recently worries about the cost of fuel to heat their homes.

Ledbury Reporter: Ledbury Food Bank is a Talk Community HubLedbury Food Bank is a Talk Community Hub

“We anticipate that the demand for our services will continue to rise and we are particularly concerned about what will happen in the autumn, when people start to turn their heating back on,” he said.

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Revd Phillip Warrey, a minister at the Methodist Church in Ledbury and a food bank volunteer, said he is worried that poverty continues to rise dramatically.

Free internet access at Ledbury Food Bank

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation estimated in March that over the next year, 600,000 people will be pulled into poverty. And a report from the Office for Budget Responsibility said the rise in inflation would bring about “the biggest fall in living standards in any single financial year since ONS records began in 1956-57”.

Ledbury Reporter: The food bank has moved to the Homend Trading EstateThe food bank has moved to the Homend Trading Estate

As well as providing emergency food parcels to visitors, Ledbury Food Bank provides advice on claiming Universal Credit and helps visitors access funds to assist with heating their homes.

Funding has been received from Herefordshire Council as part of the Talk Community Hub programme to give visitors free internet access at the food bank. Talks to help visitors make the most of the food they receive are also planned in the near future.

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The food bank is also seeking grants to supply visitors with more cost-effective ways of cooking food, such as slow cookers and microwaves.

Ledbury Food Bank, which is approaching its 10th birthday, is entirely dependent on both donations and its large team of volunteers.