THOUSANDS of people have received help from East Lancashire’s food-banks in the past 12 months, new figures reveal.
Three-day emergency food parcels from the Brunswick Street food-bank in Blackburn were given to 7,508 people, 2,903 of whom were children.
The figures obtained by the Lancashire Telegraph show how many people from each council ward visited the foodbank and why.
A total of 1,067 people from Shadsworth and Whitebirk went to the foodbank in the past year. Half were children.
And 1,098 people from Wensley Fold were refer-red for emergency help, 304 of whom were children, making these wards the ones where people used foodbanks the most.
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The reasons for referrals included benefit delays and changes, children’s holidays, domestic viol-ence and sickness.
Benefit delays and changes was by far the biggest reason why people were referred, accounting for 2,645 and 1,435 referrals respectively.
The category with the largest percentage of children, other than the children’s school holiday meals, was domestic violence, with 60 per cent of child referrals.
Ros Duerden, project manager at the centre, said: “We’re seeing growing numbers turning to Blackburn foodbank for help, which shouldn’t be happening in the seventh richest country in the world.
“The reality is that life is very difficult for people on low incomes.”
Rossendale’s Raft Foundation provided food parcels to 450 households in the 12 months up to December 2013. So far this year, it has given out nearly 16,000 meals.
A new collection point for non-perishable items is due to be opened at Asda in Rawtenstall to help meet demand.
Coordinator Caroline Collins said: “We have seen a rise in the number of families being referred.”
In Burnley and Hyndburn, Community Solutions received 484 referrals to its services in December 2013 alone – a 128 per cent increase on the year before.
Kate Hollern, leader of Blackburn with Darwen council, said: “Severe budget cuts to local public services, with more to come, cuts to benefits hitting the most vulnerable and the cost of living crisis mean continuing hardship for many people.
“It’s an outrage that foodbanks are needed in 21st century Britain but it is a godsend these organisations are here.”