IT is an anniversary which is not a cause for celebration as Mossley Foodbank is six years old.
In an ideal world the organisation, which operates from Mossley Youth Base at the Rowans on Micklehurst Estate, would not exist.
Sadly since the foodbank, which is run under the umbrella of Micklehurst Estate Residents’ Association, was set up in 2013 demand has increased and is greater than ever as food poverty remains a major issue.
Peter Dickson, who together with Maureen Darraugh set up the volunteer-run scheme, added he cannot see it diminishing in the foreseeable future.
Indeed, over the last six years the foodbank has evolved to evolved to provide far more than food.
Volunteer Lindsey Tweed operated a ‘holiday hunger scheme’ during the summer break.
Up to 30 children were provided with a free school meal parcel for lunches.
The foodbank has also a clothes recycling scheme, with a particular emphasis on school uniform which was in demand for the start of the academic year.
Mossley Foodbank was also last year linked to Key 103’s Mission Christmas initiative to provide toys for families who were unable to afford them while Jigsaw, the landlord for homes on Micklehurst Estate, provided warm coats for children.
It is a far cry to when Peter won a cash grant from a recycling scheme to start the foodbank in 2013.
Peter said: “Demand is greater than it has ever been for a number of reasons.
“Universal Credit has been a major issue but we also had people whose benefits have been stopped or delayed so they have run into debt. There has also been a freeze on benefits while food prices have increased.
“We also have people who are working but who do not earn enough to get by on or who can’t work through illness.
“Poverty has definitely got worse over the last six years and once you are in the poverty trap it is difficult to get out of.”
There are a number of food donation points in Mossley including the Co-op, St Joseph’s RC Church, Emmaus and Mossley AFC Running Club while individuals also regularly visit with provisions.
“I can’t thank people enough for their generosity, which is overwhelming,” Peter added.
Councillor Jack Homer, one of the volunteers, added 54 different people have attended the foodbank since the start of the year.
He said: “They may have collected food for their families so we reckon may be 100 people have relied on us since January.
“And it will get worse when winter comes and they have to choose between heating and eating.
“Some people are embarrassed and come in, collect their parcel and leave as quickly as possible.
“It is sad they are embarrassed. We are not here to judge or ask questions.”
Jack added there are heartbreaking stories, saying: “One woman came in before Christmas and I offered to carry her bags to her homes.
“When I got inside the cupboards were bare and there was no food and no presents which was really depressing.
“We used to think when we were young we lived in poverty but the situation is worse today than I ever thought it was.”
Peter added people have visited the Mossley Foodbank, which is open from 10am to noon each Thursday, from Stalybridge and Hyde.
“They have been unable to wait until the following week when the foodbank in their town is open and out of desperation came to us. One person even walked from Millbrook,” he said.
Referral forms are available at local doctors, schools, the Department of Work and Pensions, Jisgaw and the Citizen Advice Bureau.
“If people arrive without a form we can refer them,” said Peter.