Blackburn Foodbank has issued an urgent appeal for one specific item, after a decrease in donations and surge in people coming through its door.

Earlier this month the Oakenhurst Road foodbank said it was “facing a critical shortage” of soap which is “an essential item for the well-being of those in need”.

It is the first time that the foodbank has ever run out of the item.

Gill Fourie, operations manager at the foodbank, said several factors are to blame for the shortage including a decrease in donations.

Lancashire Telegraph: Gill Fourie, operations manager at the Blackburn FoodbankGill Fourie, operations manager at the Blackburn Foodbank (Image: Blackburn Foodbank)

She said: “We regularly run out of shampoo and it is often one of the things I have to buy – but we have never run out of soap before.

“Because we are a foodbank people often think they only need to donate food. We look after the whole person. We look at their finances, mental health, if they need help getting employment and beyond.

“Sometimes people need help feeling clean so we help them to get basic toiletries.

“If you are going to a job interview but you haven’t washed your hair in three weeks, it will make you feel horrible.

“It is nice to get spruced up for an interview.”

Gill said the foodbank has seen a drastic decrease in donations compared to pre-pandemic levels. This means that the team is having to buy more of its items instead of relying on donations.

She said: “This time last year we were buying around 40 per cent of the items we needed to give out and now we are looking at buying around 60 per cent of the items.

“Before the pandemic we didn’t need to buy anything.”

The cost of living crisis and global events are said to impact donations at the foodbank.

Gill said: “The cost of living is definitely to blame.

“World events also place a stress on food banks in a way you wouldn’t expect. For instance, the Ukraine and Russia war impacted the amount of cereal being donated to food banks.

“We are also having to buy plastic bags after a drop in donations, because many people donate online or via supermarket banks.”

According to Gill, there has been an influx of people needing to use the foodbank’s services.

Lancashire Telegraph: Blackburn FoodbankBlackburn Foodbank (Image: Google)

The data for the foodbank’s usage in January was said to be “heartbreaking”. Around 1,600 people were provided with enough meals for three days. The foodbank saw an average of 70 families a day.

“We are well up in demand compare to the period before the pandemic,” Gill said.

“Anyone can be at risk of using a foodbank. Some people are on zero hours contract or have a family member unable to work through illness.

“We have seen people who are working lower paid jobs, such as carers and teaching assistants, coming to us.

“If anyone has anything they would like to donate we are happy to receive it. We’d also appreciate regular givers who have a spare £5 or £10 a month to spare.”

As well as soap and toiletries the foodbank is asking for size 5-6 nappies, tomatoes, UHT milk and tinned fruit to name a few.