Foodbank fears over welfare cuts

Pastor Chas Sandhu (right) of the Lighthouse Church, Spalding, with Agape Care Foodbank coordinator Irene Davies (left), Kevin Merritt and Jenny Tedbury.
Pastor Chas Sandhu (right) of the Lighthouse Church, Spalding, with Agape Care Foodbank coordinator Irene Davies (left), Kevin Merritt and Jenny Tedbury.

Volunteers at Agape Care Foodbank in Spalding are bracing themselves for an increase in demand because of the latest Government cuts announced this week.

Changes, including a seven-day waiting period before people can claim benefits and tougher rules for claimants who can’t speak English, have left leaders of the Spalding’s Agape foodbank fearing an influx of new cases.

The centre is already struggling with a shortage of storage space and is desperately looking for a warehouse to rent at a special rate so that donations from the public and businesses can be packed and given out to needy people.

Pastor Chas Sandhu, minister of the Lighthouse Church, in Haverfield Road, where the foodbank is based, said: “I’m concerned about what the Government has said because it will impact on the foodbank and mean a rise in people wanting help.

“We’ll do our best to support people where we can but they have to realise that we’re not a benefit or here to provide food to people week in, week out.

“The foodbank is here to help people who are struggling because they haven’t got their benefits through yet, they’ve been made redundant or they’ve been hit by a family tragedy.

“We are grateful to people and businesses who are still supporting us, but these changes mean that the people of South Holland will have to work together even more.”

Mr Sandhu confirmed that demand for food parcels was already higher than for the first six months of last year as more people suffer redundancy and benefit cuts.

He said: “It’s going to be very tight for people when the Government changes come in, so we hope that things won’t change in terms of people and businesses giving to us.

“We’re still hoping someone will come up with a warehouse which we can use for a peppercorn rent to store and provide food because we’re running out of space at the church.”

The Rev Rosamund Seal, vicar of All Saints’ Church, Holbeach, where a new foodbank is expected to open in September, said: “Only time will tell what impact the changes announced by the Government will have on people here.

“But in my view, it emphasises the urgency and significance of what we’re trying to do.”