By Andy Hirst, Special Correspondent
Huddersfield food bank The Welcome Centre will spend nearly £110,000 on food to feed people in need this year – and Huddersfield Hub readers can help by making a monthly donation.
The charity is under pressure like never before due to Covid-19 and will be looking to provide around 300,000 meals during 2021. To put the high demand into context, The Welcome Centre spent just £15,000 on food in 2015 and £60,000 a year pre-Covid.
Since the pandemic began all food packs are now being delivered directly to people’s homes.
The charity still has collection points around the town and the ones at major supermarkets are filled to the brim like never before. But the centre is closed to the public due to Coronavirus so people can’t simply drop donations in any more which is why the plea has now gone out for people to make monthly cash donations instead.
The Welcome Centre (TWC) fundraising manager Emma Greenough said: “The huge rise in our food bill really shows the change in demand for the service we give. Giving money is the most effective and easiest way people can support us and we’ve certainly seen a shift towards this over the last year which has been a fantastic help.
“One of the groups that has made this transition has been churches which used to donate such great amounts of food but kind-hearted congregations have made the switch to donations instead.”
Setting up a donation is easy CLICK HERE – it only takes a couple of minutes.
TWC, based on Lord Street in Huddersfield town centre, helps people in crisis who are referred to it from more than 100 organisations throughout Kirklees and is run by a small team helped by 100 dedicated volunteers.
The centre provides food packs to last seven days and can also provide toiletries, kitchen equipment and bedding. TWC distributed 15,484 crisis support packs last year of which 10,495 were food packs – enough to provide more than 280,000 meals – up from just under 240,000 in 2019. These have helped 4,545 people, including 1,359 children, and the centre is now actively helping 250 people every week.
It costs just over £50 for TWC to feed a family of four for seven days.
A typical food pack contains tinned soup, cereal, pasta or rice, long-life milk, fresh or tinned fruit; pies, eggs or fish fingers, beans, biscuits or cakes, fresh or tinned vegetables including potatoes, bread, tinned fish and cooking sauces or tinned tomatoes.
Special packs are also made up which are vegetarian, halal, dairy, wheat-free or allergy-based.
TWC gives out toiletry packs and even home starter packs that include pans and kitchen utensils for people just moving into rented property.
Drop-off points where people can donate food are still in action such as Sainsbury’s at Shorehead, Asda on Bradford Road, Tesco in Huddersfield and Morrisons at Waterloo.
TWC helps people facing job loss, debt and eviction, benefit issues, homelessness, fleeing violence or relationship breakdown, struggling with mental or physical health issues, struggling with drug or alcohol problems, younger people estranged from family, asylum seekers and refugees, ex-offenders and street workers.
Emma said: “The people we help survive on very low incomes, rely on the benefits system or have no income at all and things have undoubtedly been made even worse by Covid-19. By the time people cannot afford food they tend not to be able to afford rent or bills either.”
TWC also provides practical support from advocacy, guidance and support manager Cath Williams who works closely with people to tackle the underlying issues that have led them to be in such need and help them get back on their feet. During the Coronavirus crisis she is busy helping people in dire need to access grants and doing welfare calls to those desperate for support.
3 simple steps to getting support from The Welcome Centre
1. People need to be referred to TWC and lots of professionals and organisations can do this including GPs, social workers, community psychiatric nurses, housing services, Kirklees Citizens Advice and Law Centre, Huddersfield Mission or the person in need can phone Kirklees Local Welfare Provision Team on 01484 414782.
2. TWC asks for a little more information about them including any specific dietary needs so they can then make the food packs up.
3. The food packs are delivered to the person’s home the next day, Monday to Friday.
Here’s how The Welcome Centre helped a woman in her 80s struggling to care for herself and her disabled son.
Margaret is in her 80s and a full-time carer for her disabled son who lives with her, but has struggled to cope since her husband died 18 months ago.
He’d been responsible for the household finances, including managing the carers’ benefits and pensions they received, which meant Margaret was unsure what bills needed to be paid and what benefits they received.
She fell behind with repayments so Margaret contacted Kirklees Covid Response who referred her to TWC so she could be immediately provided with food.
Cath Williams from the centre helped Margaret to apply for a discretionary housing payment and an exceptional hardship grant from Kirklees Local Welfare. This meant Margaret was able to clear her arrears and buy a microwave as her old one had broken.
Margaret continues to care for her son and they are managing much better now.
For more information on The Welcome Centre go to https://www.thewelcomecentre.org/
* Written by former Huddersfield Examiner Head of Content Andy Hirst who now runs his own Huddersfield-based agency AH! PR https://ah-pr.com/ specialising in press releases, blogging and copywriting for business in Yorkshire and across the UK.