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East Lancashire parents face school holiday food struggle
DEMAND for foodbanks has soared during the school holidays, latest figures show.
Between July 22 and August 8 Blackburn foodbank provided emergency food for 469 people, compared to 296 people between July 1 and 22 - a 58 per cent increase.
It comes as figures obtained by the Lancashire Telegraph revealed that, at 47 East Lancashire schools, more than a third of children received free school meals last year.
After staff at East Lancashire foodbanks reported seeing children with shocking signs of malnutrition, the Lancashire Telegraph launched a campaign calling on readers to donate items to support local food banks.
The Trussell Trust charity, which runs the foodbank in Blackburn, said it had even opened a special distribution centre in the town, specifically to help families who are struggling during school holidays.
Ros Duerden, who manages the Blackburn foodbank, said that staff had anticipated children going hungry over the summer - and the foodbanks bridging the gap.
She said: “We wrote to all the schools in Blackburn and Darwen several months ago and asked them about this and the schools identified families that they were concerned about and we pre-issued them with vouchers.
“We’re also having families from Blackburn and Darwen coming to us regularly during the summer holidays as an emergency because they are not coping.”
Elsewhere in East Lancashire, other foodbanks have seen a similar rise since the beginning of the summer. Genevieve Waite from Community Solutions, a charity which runs a foodbank in Burnley said: “Between July 1 and August 8 we helped 1,316 people, but sometimes people are referred to us as a single person but have a partner living with them, so actually it could be a lot more.
“About a third of those that we’ve helped are children. We’ve definitely seen an increase since the summer holidays began but it’s difficult to differentiate whether that’s because of the holidays or just a general increase.”
The Very Rev Christopher Armstrong, Dean of Blackburn Cathedral, said that faith organisations were working hard to bridge the gaps, but that they had to rely on the generosity of the public.
He said: “At the cathedral we’ve noticed an increased number of people who are coming to us for food. It’s a very challenging region at the moment in all sorts of ways. I don’t think the government has noticed the uneven distribution of prosperity across the country.
“We are in a particularly poor area and funding has been cut to local authorities so they are no longer able to provide the same level of support. Churches and other faith groups are now moving in to fill the gaps.”
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