Large turnout for food bank plan for town

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Organisations and members of the public turned out in force to hear about a bid to establish an emergency food bank in Whitby to feed the town’s poor.

Almost 100 people attended a meeting on Wednesday at the Green Lane Centre where they heard more about the idea, which a number of agencies who work in the community said was needed.

The project is being facilitated by Yorkshire Coast Homes in partnership with the borough council, Yorkshire Coast Homes, people from the faith community and Seachange Community Trust.

Sarah Skidmore from mental health charity Scarborough, Whitby and Ryedale Mind told the meeting she had heard horror stories from some of her clients in food poverty. She said they had agreed to her publicising their stories.

“I had one gentleman this year who ended up with food poisoning,” she said. “He was using wood pigeon to survive because his benefits had changed. He ended up with three months without food. I supported him for the next month with food.”

The worker highlighted another case where a mum with a 15-year-old son, suffered a psychotic episode and was unable to leave her home. Subsequently, her benefits were stopped.

“She was very, very desperate for food and had to get help from the Rainbow Centre in Scarborough,” she added.

“Another woman had moved home to a new house and they got the postcode wrong as Whitley Bay instead of Whitby. She has mental health problems and went for three months without the right benefits.”

During the presentation, Chris Taylor, a member of a Whitby church, told those present the food bank is intended as a short-term solution offering three days of nutritionally balanced food, three times a year in return for vouchers.The reasons why people are seeking help will also be addressed.

Referrals will mainly be made from front line agencies such as social services although questions were raised about people who may turn up without a referral to make sure something will be put in place to help them too.

Although the food bank is only currently a proposal, people were asked in what ways they could support it as it will not be able to exist without help from volunteers, businesses, the community and other agencies.

For more details call Mel Tilley on (01723) 343441 or Chris Taylor on (07789) 765696.