FOODBANKS ‘don’t just hand out food to anyone who walks in off the street,’ a manager has explained.

Ros Duerden, project manager of Blackburn Foodbank, said: “One of the biggest issues we face is members of the public having the misconception that we hand out food to anyone who walks in off the street, or that we give free food to people that are well and able to buy food for themselves and that is simply not the case.

“Everyone that receives a food voucher is assessed and that is important. They are assessed by professionals who identify that they are in crisis.”

Foodbanks work on a referral basis. Each Foodbank works with ‘partner agencies’ such as the police, citizen’s advice bureau, care workers, schools and medical professionals who identify people in need, assess them and if necessary, issue them with a voucher for ‘emergency food’, usually enough for a week.

Mal Armstrong is the Gateway Assessor at Blackburn Citizen’s Advice Bureau and is responsible for the centres Food Vouchers. “People don’t just walk in and get one. That’s not how it works at all. Through the gateway assessment we identify people in genuine hardship. Often, they are referred here by case workers that have met them on an unrelated issue, so by the time they get to me they have, really, been interviewed twice.”

The vouchers are numbered and have to be signed by the professional that is referring them so that they cannot be replicated.

Community Solutions, based in Accrington, delivers it’s food parcels across Hyndburn, Pendle, Burnley and Rossendale but shares the same referral system as a Trussell Trust Foodbank.

Mark Hirst at Community Solutions Foodbank said: “There’s a thought that people are just getting a free meal, whether they need it or not but we have a very strict and stringent referral system.”

“People are not happy about needing to receive free food. What we hear everyday is people saying ‘I’m so embarrassed. I’ve never needed to accept charity before.’ “In a way, I’m trying to put myself out of business. I want people to be in a position where they don’t need to rely on Foodbanks any The Trussell Trust, which runs Blackburn Foodbank launches three new foodbanks in the UK every week and they have provided almost 350,000 people with emergency food.

There are already 350 Trussell Trust Foodbanks in the UK and there are scores of other charities that provide food for the needy.