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Rossendale food bank volunteers expect 30 referrals a week
8:00pm Saturday 29th September 2012 in News
VOLUNTEERS behind Rossendale’s first independent food bank have been warned to expect around 30 referrals a week when new welfare reforms kick in.
The RAFT Foundation, based in Haslingden, was formed by three residents after they witnessed first-hand suffering and poverty in the Valley.
Rossendale Council has pledged to do all it can to help the volunteers with their efforts.
Co-founder and chairman, Kate Crane, said that despite popular belief to the contrary, putting food on the table was a very real problem for some families.
She said: “For some individuals and families it really can come down to a choice between paying bills or buying food.
“We’re trying to take the stigma away from people who find themselves in this position. The people we help are from all sorts of backgrounds.
“To look at them you might not think they’re hard up, being made redundant or losing benefits at short notice has a real impact.”
The foundation hopes to raise become a registered charity within the next six months. To do so it must raise £5,000 over the course of the year to prove to the Charity Commission that it is sustainable.
Currently they are fundraising and have dealt with five high-priority cases referred to them by the citizens’ advice bureau and Green Vale Homes.
But Kate says estimates by Help Direct Lancashire say they may have to cope with a huge increase in referrals when housing benefits changes further next April.
Deputy leader of Rossendale Council, Sean Serridge said he was shocked at the need for a food bank in the borough.
He said: “I really do think it’s appaling that in this day and age, in one of the richest countries in the world, more and more people are having to rely on food banks.
I’ll be making contact this week to see in what way the council can assist, and I would encourage as many people as possible to donate food and other items to this excellent group.”
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