Lancashire Telegraph readers are being asked for donations to support Blackburn Foodbank meet growing demand.

Blackburn Foodbank is part of a nationwide network, supported by The Trussell Trust, and is working to combat poverty and hunger across the borough.

Since opening in 2012, the foodbank has supported almost 120,000 vulnerable residents with 441,300 meals as well as saving people from “millions of pounds of debt” through their money advice centre.

The staff and volunteers believe everyone should have access to healthy and nutritional meals so they spend £1,000 a month on fresh produce.

Last month, the Lancashire Telegraph launched its No Hungry Kids This Summer campaign. 

Lancashire Telegraph: Blackburn Foodbank pantryBlackburn Foodbank pantry (Image: LT)

Operations manager Gill Fourie said: “We try not to give ready meals and food with added sugar so people can have proper meals so it costs around £1,000 a month to supply fresh fruit, vegetables, eggs, milk, butter, and cheese.

“If the money starts to dry up then it would restrict the amount of nutritious food we can give to people and we'd just have to give them tinned food.

“A dad came to us for help after he had to give up his job to care for his wife who was very poorly. They had five children.

"We gave him bags of food for seven people but he didn’t know what to do with it. So he learned to cook because he had no option but to do that and he said it changed their lives.

“Now his children are also helping him cook so that food parcel has altered the lives of the family as well as those children now growing up knowing how to cook so it is life-changing.”

Parts of Blackburn with Darwen are some of the most deprived areas in England and the number of people relying on the foodbank has gradually increased over the years as the cost-of-living crisis has hit families hard.

Between January and July 2023, 4,178 children in Blackburn with Darwen relied on the foodbank to ensure they didn’t go hungry. The number of adults who used the foodbank was 6,715.

Lancashire Telegraph: Gill Fourie says the No Hungry Kids This Summer £5,000 goal would cover the cost of fresh produce for five monthsGill Fourie says the No Hungry Kids This Summer £5,000 goal would cover the cost of fresh produce for five months (Image: LT)

Gill has been documenting the number of foodbank users each month for years and says the fluctuations and trends are “interestingly based on government policies.”

When the government ceased the Universal Credit uplift at the end of September 2021, Blackburn Foodbank supplied an extra 1,000 meals in one month.

Because of inflation, the number of people using the foodbank spiked in April 2022, and was higher than the same period in the previous years.

On the other end of the spectrum, there was a drop in users in October 2022 because of the Energy Bill Relief Scheme so some residents were able to put that money saved towards food.

If the £5,000 target of the No Hungry Kids This Summer campaign is met, the money would cover the cost of fresh produce for five months.

This would relieve some pressure as the foodbank anticipates another wave of increased demand with mortgage rates increasing.

Blackburn Foodbank is supporting the Trussell Trust Guarantee our Essentials campaign. The campaign is calling on the government to introduce a basic rate of Universal Credit to at least £120 a week.

READ: Help Lancashire Telegraph raise £5,000 for Blackburn Foodbank

Daisy Dumsday, communications coordinator and local organiser at the foodbank, also shared that there are more full time workers relying on foodbanks – particularly health and education workers.

Daisy said: “We’re seeing a lot of teaching assistants and nurses especially use the foodbank ever since the cost-of-living crisis started.

“Minimum wage sometimes isn’t enough to cover rent and it’s the same for people who receive Universal Credit. The cost of rent on top of bills and then food is just too much.”

You can donate to Blackburn Foodbank via our dedicated GoFundMe campaign here.