Foodbank desperate for donations

A FOODBANK set up in Stalybridge may run out of items in weeks if more are not donated.

Steven Barton admits the amount given to the scheme has gone down this year, with the £20 cut in Universal Credit sending demand rocketing.

As such, unless more is not given to then be passed on to those in need, Barty’s could be out of stock by the end of January.

Steve Barton

And a Christmas toy appeal he runs every year is also struggling to put a smile on every child’s face.

Government benefits cuts – notably the alteration in Universal Credit – has piled the pressure on to schemes like Steven’s, which has also seen schools set up their own foodbanks.

And unless things change soon, the consequences could be dire.

Steve, who was awarded a British Empire Medal for his work, told The Correspondent: “We’ve enough stock to last until the end of January, then I’d be using my overdraft again.

“We’re helping 127 people a week now. We didn’t help that many people at the height of the pandemic.

“Donations have basically dried up since February. We don’t expect them but there are 275,000 people in Tameside. If everyone bought one 10p tin, I’d have a lot.

“We’re short on milk, juice, tinned fruit and tomatoes. We’re just short of everything really.

“People are struggling but when Covid-19 hit there was a feel-good factor, everyone wanted to help each other.

Barty’s foodbank – photography by Anthony Devlin

“Now many people have gone back to what they normally do, look after number one.

“I do a Christmas giveaway as well of toys when I visit families in hospitals, women’s centres and lots of other people.

“We’ve delivered more than £13,000 worth of toys this year already and about £142,000 last year.

We helped more than 600 families but the toys are starting to worry me. It’s stark, it’s down now by about 80 per cent.

“I also work in conjunction with the NSPCC.”

As well as the Covid-19 pandemic, the Universal Credit cut has seen more and more people turn to organisations like Barty’s, which operates at Stalybridge’s Labour Club on Acres Lane.

He added: “The people using the foodbank more and more are working people. People have this stigma about using a foodbank but there’s no shame whatsoever.

“Working people are struggling and the Universal Credit cut has crippled people who were struggling anyway.

“It’s worse than the height of the pandemic. Furlough has finished too and people have been laid off.

“People can’t make end’s meet, then you take £20 a week off kids. We’re seeing starving kids. I hope people are proud of themselves as they sit in their posh houses.

“They don’t live in the real world. I do and it’s not very nice. Everyone was clapping on doorsteps, no-one’s clapping now.

“There’s a lot of pressure on the foodbank now. If anything, it’s a little too much now.”