A DENTON-BASED foodbank that is Tameside’s oldest is helping families at a time when need is at its most critical – Christmas.
The church at St Mary’s in Haughton Green has been the base for a group since November 2011 – when it was only supposed to be a three-month project!Now as demand on families for food grows in the run-up to December 25, it is taking part in the Operation Christmas Dinner appeal.
Running from Monday, December 16 to Friday, December 20, they will once again be providing more than 200 families with their Christmas.
But founder Helen Holland admitted it is a sad indictment that the scheme, along with many others, is even operating – and getting busier.
She said: “The foodbank was formed as a result of becoming aware that people in our own community and not in the city centre were travelling to use soup kitchens.
“These families were not homeless but could not afford to feed themselves and their families.
“We opened a three month project to help feed Tameside families over the winter period of 2011/12.
“Eight years later, unfortunately demand on the foodbank is still growing – a very sad reflection on the society we live in.
“Food poverty is no longer just a crisis that can be solved in the short-term; for some families it can be a very long-term issue.
“In reality many clients who have used the foodbank waited over 10 weeks for support.
“That’s 10 weeks with absolutely no or very little income and it is estimated that by the end of this year, the food bank will have had, sadly, its busiest year ever.
“Foodbanks should not exist in our country but unfortunately they do and will do for many years to come.“The volunteers at this small, independent food bank long for the day that the cupboards no longer need to be filled and the project can close – that will be success!”
St Mary’s may be based in Haughton Green but it serves the whole of Tameside and occasionally beyond.
Every family that needs help can claim up to four parcels, each of which give about a week’s worth of staple foods, in a 12 month period.
As extra support, there is also a food pantry scheme which gives longer term support for a small donation.
Low income, debt and benefit delays are the top three issues that see families finding themselves in food poverty.
Helen added: “The implementation of Universal Credit in Tameside as a trial area was a disaster and has had a devastating effect and consequences on hundreds of families.
“Christmas is a particularly hard time for families, which is why the foodbank gears up for their Operation Christmas Dinner project.
“Last year, 237 Tameside families, referred by schools, social services, housing associations, NHS and other organisations all received a Christmas dinner and trimmings to cook at home, enough food and treats to last the festive season and presents for every child.
“None of this would happen without the amazing Tameside public. They are simply amazing.”
With Christmas dinners to be given out, the need for more festive treats has increased and St Mary’s has appealed for donations of things like mince pies, selection boxes, biscuits, crisps and crackers.
That is on top of rice, tinned curries, stews, chilli, tinned vegetables and fruit, tinned spaghetti, tinned hot dogs and meatballs, tinned potatoes, tinned rice pudding, cordial, sugar, coffee, long life milk, noodles, cup a soup, pasta sauces, curry sauces, packet custard and instant mash potato.
From December 16 to 19, the foodbank will be accepting fresh potatoes, vegetables and fresh/frozen chickens so they can be to parcelled up ready for distribution to referred families.
It will also accept any new gifts and toys that can be allocated, particularly gifts or vouchers for teenagers.
Donations can be left at drop off points across Denton and Haughton Green.
In particular, Morrisons and Sainsburys in Denton, Tesco in Haughton Green, most churches and GP surgeries, schools and other shops have small collection points.
People can also drop off at the church centre on Meadow Lane in Haughton Green at the foodbank opening times, which are Tuesday between 4pm and 5pm, Wednesday between 3pm and 4pm and Friday between 11.30am and 12.15pm.
Anyone wishing to help can call 07964 994008 or message via www.facebook.com/stmaryshg