A NEW foodbank has opened in Hyde after the town was left without provision during the Covid-19 crisis.
The Grafton Centre stepped in to offer its facilities as a temporary home after the Tameside South and Longdendale Foodbank lost its former base.
When lockdown was imposed the Hyde and District Fellowship of Churches Community Foodstore, which was based at Hyde Methodist Church, was forced to close its doors.“That foodbank was essentially run by a lot of elderly volunteers so that was why it was suspended at the start of Covid-19,” explained Sue Ayers, project co-ordinator for the Tameside South and Longdendale Foodbank.
“Councillors Jacqueline Owen and Janet Cooper were concerned there was no provision in Hyde, and they helped set up the one at the Grafton Centre which was shut because of the pandemic.”
The Tameside South and Longdendale Foodbank, which was formed eight years ago and is part of The Trussell Trust, operates weekly from three bases – St Mary’s Church, Hollingworth 11am to noon on Monday; Grafton Centre, Hyde, 2pm-3pm Wednesday and Hattersley Baptist Church 2pm-3pm Friday.
Sue admitted the coronavirus crisis has been challenging, especially as the start.
She explained: “It was difficult when you rely entirely on volunteers and donations.
“We lost more than 80 per cent of our volunteers overnight because many are retired and elderly.
“We couldn’t buy food because of the rationing imposed by supermarkets while we lost some of our collecting points.
“And this was at a time when demand doubled. It was a hairy period, but we managed to get through it.”
Sue praised supermarkets – Tesco, Asda and Morrisons – for their corporate donations while individual also stepped forward giving food.
She added the local foodbanks have seen many first-time users.
Sue continued: “We have had many people who have lost their jobs – taxi drivers, travel agents and builders who have been part of the increase.
“The fact you have to wait five weeks for Universal Credit causes massive issues as it leaves people without money for five weeks.
“And more than 45 per cent are children we feed.”
Since Grafton Street opened, Sue added it has proved there is a lot of need in Hyde and opening the new foodbank was important to serve the community.
Sue praised her team of committed volunteers, adding she has had new ones, people on furlough with free time to help.
The foodbank also has a helpline, operated by Onward Housing, and which is staffed Monday to Friday 10am to 3pm. People can call 0333 7721916 to chat about their personal circumstances.