Schools step up to help as food bank use soars during lockdown

Collections at St Martin's Garden Primary School, Bath. Credit: ITV West Country

Demand on food banks has gone up by more than three quarters since the introduction of lockdown, according to the Trussell Trust. With many families pushed into poverty by the pandemic, empty schools and nurseries are being used to collect food and essential items to help those in need.

At St Martin's Garden Primary School in Odd Down, Bath, the school halls have turned into donations depots. Teachers have been sorting through piles of donated food, toiletries, clothes and toys, and distributing them to local families.

"For some people they haven't been furloughed. They might have lost their overtime or they might have had their hours reduced. That's going to have a huge impact on a family's budget."

Claire Parfitt, Headteacher at St Martin's Garden Primary School in Bath

Other community leaders are helping too. Along the road from the primary school, the local vicar is also collecting and delivering food donations in his car.

"People are losing their jobs. Self-employed people are losing their jobs where work has completely dried up. Others are going onto furlough. They've lost overtime. There's just a lot of need out there at the moment."

Rev Paul Ferguson, St Philip & St James Church in Odd Down, Bath

The situation in Bath is reflected across the country. According to the Trussell Trust, national foodbank use went up 81% in the last two weeks of March. It says many of the new users have children to provide for; the trust wants the government to increase benefits for families.

"We really welcome the rapid response of the Government in terms of the job retention scheme, and the investment they've made into Universal Credit. But we know that this won't be enough to anchor everyone."

Emma Greenwood, South West Area Manager at the Trussell Trust
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