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Barking foodbank increases opening time as demand soars as result of coronavirus

PUBLISHED: 12:00 22 July 2020

Barking Foodbank was set up by Obi Onyeabor in February 2012. Picture: Barking Foodbank

Barking Foodbank was set up by Obi Onyeabor in February 2012. Picture: Barking Foodbank

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A foodbank saw use increase by more than 73 per cent at the height of the coronavirus lockdown, figures have revealed.

The foodbank welcomes any long life food which can be handed over at its sites during operating hours or via donation bins at Tesco in Highbridge Road, Asda's Barking superstore or the Asda Chadwell Heath superstore. Picture: Barking FoodbankThe foodbank welcomes any long life food which can be handed over at its sites during operating hours or via donation bins at Tesco in Highbridge Road, Asda's Barking superstore or the Asda Chadwell Heath superstore. Picture: Barking Foodbank

Barking Foodbank, which operates sites in Barking town centre and Chadwell Heath, reports that 931 people needed its help in the two months after lockdown began - up from 536 the year before.

The charity behind the foodbank, Hope Family Trust, is looking to expand its services with plans to offer financial advice, skills training and a buddy network.

Its chairman, Obi Onyeabor, said: “The Covid-19 crisis has sent more people to our door for support - and thanks to the community rallying around us with donations we have been able to help more than 1,500 people in the last four months.

“But we know the hard times are not over yet and the worst could still be yet to come.

Barking Foodbank reports that 931 people needed its help in the two months after lockdown began - up from 536 the year before. Picture: Barking FoodbankBarking Foodbank reports that 931 people needed its help in the two months after lockdown began - up from 536 the year before. Picture: Barking Foodbank

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“We are expecting to see more people in need of support as services are stretched and the government’s coronavirus support ends.

“By making sure we are open to the public five days a week, we hope to be able to do all we can to support our community through this difficult period as we continue to fight hunger in the borough.”

The number of children served by the foodbank grew by 76 per cent - rising from 217 in the period spanning March 23 to May 23 2019, to 382 across the same two months in 2020, according to the foodbank.

Obi Onyeabor. Picture: Arnaud StephensonObi Onyeabor. Picture: Arnaud Stephenson

The number of families in need of support also increased with more than one in every three parcels handed out by the foodbank’s volunteers going to a single or dual parent household.

However, despite the easing of lockdown measures that pushed many into a position of need, volunteers fear the worst could be yet to come as the economic fallout from the virus leaves people out of work and services stretched.

As a result, Barking Foodbank is due to increase its operating times – opening on Tuesday mornings at the United Reformed Church in Chadwell Heath to make sure people can get support five days a week.


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