Food banks in Northampton appeal to those in need who might be reluctant to ask for help

The food projects say that with rising demand they hope everyone in need reaches out
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Several food banks in Northampton have raised concerns that some people in need are not accepting help out of a fear of being judged, among other reasons.

The concerns have emerged as demand for food bank services in Northampton have risen steeply since lockdown, with Weston Favell reporting a tripling of demand.

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Yet it is feared that even more people may be choosing to go without.

The charities hope that the 'stigma' around food banks will end over timeThe charities hope that the 'stigma' around food banks will end over time
The charities hope that the 'stigma' around food banks will end over time

Robin Burgess, chief executive of Hope Group Northampton, voiced his concerns that, despite efforts to reduce the 'stigma' around food banks, there are still those who are reluctant to come forward.

He said: "Although there are many, many people in need, in hunger, in poverty, they don't always seek help from food projects like Hope, perhaps out of fear, they don't think their conditions are bad enough or they feel shame.

"I think it's just built into society. People may feel embarrassed, they may be older, there may be all kinds of reasons. It's mostly to do with shame, especially for older people.

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"We advise people to come into places like Hope to discuss it.

"You'll always receive a warm welcome at any kind of food project, not just at Hope. We won't make you feel poor in the sense of 'not being good enough'.

"Many of us have lived experience of poverty, whether it be because of money or mental health. So we've been there and we will never judge you for needing help."

Organisations like Hope have been concerned for some time that the removal of the £20 a week uplift to Universal Credit has come at an unfortunate time, coinciding with rising electricity, heating and food bills, among others.

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Anne Woodley, foodbank manager for Weston Favell, said that these pressures compound on the financial difficulties people were already having during lockdown, and mean their foodbank has seen rapidly rising demand.

The manager said that from Monday December 13 to Wednesday 15 alone, they had already seen 400 people in need of support. This, she said is 'triple' what would normally be a 'busy' time.

Misses Woodley said: "When people first come it obviously isn't a nice experience for them to have to come to a foodbank.

"So if they are on Universal Credit and they've got debts, it's hard for them to pay those debts off and pay for basic necessities like food and pay utility bills and such like.

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"I think in the past foodbanks have been thought of like 'if you don't have enough money and have to visit a foodbank then you're a pauper'.

"But I like to think of it as a place for food provision and information. Because if they need provision of food, they likely need support in other areas as well.

These areas include community law services, which help with welfare/ benefits issues, debt, fuel poverty and so on. There are also ndas domestic abuse services and the Household Support Fund provided by Citizen's Advice.

Anne finished by saying: "Food banks are a welcoming environment and we will help anybody, be it by providing food or other support."

Anyone who is interested can visit the Hope Enterprises Food Club or Weston Favell's website to find out more.

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