Northampton church to launch debt centre after rise in foodbank users

It comes after the controversial Universal Credit rollout which has seen dozens of families affected in the Eastern District

Wednesday, 5th February 2020, 4:31 pm
Updated Thursday, 6th February 2020, 7:57 am
A volunteer pictured packing at Weston Favell Foodbank. They follow a standard packing list for each emergency food parcel that goes to someone in crisis to make sure it is nutritionally balanced. File picture taken last February.

A Northampton church is launching a debt centre next month after seeing many people who are in rent arrears.

Emmanuel Church, in Weston Favell Shopping Centre, plays host to Weston Favell Centre Foodbank every Wednesday.

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It comes as Universal Credit, the all-in-one benefit which was intended to simplify the welfare system and get jobseekers back into work when it was first announced in 2011, has led to more people being out of pocket in the parish and reliant on getting their food from the Trussell Trust food bank at the church.

Sadly, with the increase in hand-outs this made the church think about how they needed to step in and further help foodbank users manage their money by providing them with free debt advice, through Freedom Community Project.

Paul Foster community care coordinator at Emmanuel Church said: "It's going to enable us to provide beyond the foodbank and we will be able to help the clients with debt and housing advice so that we can help them to manage their finances better."

The centre will be launched at Emmanuel Church Cafe on March 25 and the service can be used by anyone living in Northampton who needs to seek advice, every Wednesday.

The foodbank started in 2012 with just three volunteers and now has about 40. File picture taken last February.

Paul will be on hand to sit down and have a coffee and a chat with those needing help and there will be a one-to-one room with a webcam for those needing further specialist debt solutions with charity, Freedom Community Project.

"It's always been one of our dreams to help people with their finances," Paul added.

"We have been exploring lots of different ways of trying to do this and this was one of the solutions we came up with."

The foodbank will also be opening two days a week (Monday and Wednesday), starting from Monday, February 10, to give people more opportunity to access the service.

In 2018, 1,076 food parcels were handed out by Emmanuel Church. These parcels, on average, would have fed a family of three, which is 3,228 people for three days at a time.

For more information about Weston Favell Centre Foodbank, or how to donate, click here.