THE AMOUNT of people using the Coventry Central Foodbank has dropped dramatically in the last year – The Observer can reveal.
In 2014 and 2015 the cause helped 18,600 people.
But by the end of 2015 it looks like the total figure had dropped to about 15,000.
Project manager Hugh McNeill said the foodbank, which has been going for five years, first launched a new advice service with the help of the Citizens Advice Bureau about a year ago, which he believes has been responsible for the drop.
This includes a debt counselling programme which, if proved successful, may be introduced elsewhere by the Trussell Trust, that runs the bank.
He said they had a number of venues which offered the service and if there was no one available they could link people up to a trained adviser through Skype.
“We are the first foodbank in the country to use it and I think it has been quite successful.
“It could be one of the reasons why we are not seeing as many people at the food bank than what we were seeing in previous years.
“I think it is a good idea and it seems to work for us and I think it would be a good thing for other foodbanks to look at.
“We welcome it because ultimately we want people to be able to stand on their own two feet.”
Mr McNeill said the debt counselling programme had proved very successful because they had been helping people get more money back into their pockets, so they did not need the foodbank.
He added one of the more moving cases they’d had recently was a mum-of-two who had found herself on her own and her hours cut dramatically at work, with a mortgage to pay for.
Mr McNeill said she had not eaten a meal with her children for a week, and had been pretending she had already had food, so they did not realise there was not enough for her and to ensure they had enough.
But with the help of the foodbank she was able to sit down with her children and have a family meal.
“People come to us in an emergency and we help them until they get back on their feet,” Mr McNeill added.
Mr McNeill also praised the success of the harvest festival this year which had brought them tons of food.
“Donations have been excellent we cannot thank people enough for their generosity and support.”
He said it would help them get through the winter when they tended to have less donations.