Sutton Bridge to get its own foodbank?

FOODBANK PLAN: The Rev David Oxtoby, vicar at St Matthew's, hopes a foodbank can be launched in Sutton Bridge.
FOODBANK PLAN: The Rev David Oxtoby, vicar at St Matthew's, hopes a foodbank can be launched in Sutton Bridge.
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Sutton Bridge – the poorest place in South Holland – may get its own foodbank if villagers support the first steps taken by the Rev David Oxtoby.

A report last year revealed more than one in five children in the village are living in poverty.

That news came as no surprise to Westmere Primary School, where a quarter of pupils are eligible for free school meals.

But Mr Oxtoby, who helped found a foodbank in his previous parish in Stamford, said all sections of the community now experience times of crisis.

He said “perhaps about 30 per cent” of the people who turned to the foodbank in Stamford were in full-time work – and most needed help because they were living at the extremes of their income and could find themselves in crisis if a big bill came up.

Mr Oxtoby said: “Because they were living on the margin the slightest thing like the car breaking down, and a £500 bill to repair it, would push them over the edge.”

He’s heard that as many as 40 people from the village travelled to Spalding last year to use foodbank vouchers.

“This year it’s likely to be around the 60-80 mark if the trajectory continues,” he said.

Mr Oxtoby is inviting community leaders to exploratory talks and hopes to win the backing of villagers with people donating food and volunteers stepping forward to run the foodbank.

Foodbanks do not prop-up ongoing poverty and are there almost as a last resort when people cannot put food on the table.

Usually only three vouchers are given – each worth £40-£50 of groceries.

Mr Oxtoby said: “There is no stigma attached to it. A foodbank is there to support the community, and that’s the whole community, and it’s about loving support because we all find ourselves in places of need at times.”

At this stage, it’s not clear whether any foodbank in Sutton Bridge will partner with South Holland’s Agape Care Foodbank or come under the wing of The Trussell Trust, a Christian charity providing help to people of all faiths and none.

Figures from the Trussell Trust showed that more than 900,000 people received help from foodbanks in 2013-14, a shocking 163 per cent rise on 2012-13.

The picture is also bleak for South Holland which saw a jump of nearly 70 per cent in the number of food parcels handed out by Agapecare Foodbank in Spalding, Holbeach and Long Sutton.

Almost 700 food parcels were issued in 2013, compared to just under 460 in 2012, with 250 handed out so far this year.

Irene Davies, coordinator of Agapecare Foodbank in Spalding, said: “Benefit delays are by far the biggest reason for needing a food parcel, followed by low income, benefits cuts and debt.

“We have also seen an increase in people coming due to benefit sanctions.”

To get involved in the plans for a foodbank at Sutton Bridge, please call Mr Oxtoby on 01406 258572 or email dav