Foodbank 'very busy' as people struggle with energy costs

Tim Morton who works for Cromer food bank at Cromer Methodist Church. Picture: Danielle Booden

Tim Morton who works for Cromer food bank at Cromer Methodist Church. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Danielle Booden

Rising energy prices and the removal of the £20 uplift in Universal Credit have forced more people to turn for support to North Norfolk Foodbank. 

Tim Morton, the organisation's project manager, has said there has been a "gradual increase" in demand for both food and fuel at its headquarters at Cromer Methodist Church.

The charity runs a scheme, called Energybank, which helps people keep warm over the winter.

Cromer food bank at Cromer Methodist Church. Picture: Danielle Booden

Cromer food bank at Cromer Methodist Church. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Danielle Booden

Mr Morton said: "We are finding this November very busy with people being referred through the scheme, because people are struggling to buy fuel and struggling to pay energy bills.

"As prices have rocketed, more people are finding it an issue."

After the foodbank receives a referral for a person or household, they issue a voucher worth £50, with one household limited to three vouchers per winter.

Cromer food bank at Cromer Methodist Church. Picture: Danielle Booden

Cromer food bank at Cromer Methodist Church. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Danielle Booden

"We have to put a limit on it because we have limited funds," Mr Morton said.

From November last year to October this year, the foodbank fulfilled 394 vouchers throughout the district.

The scheme, which started four years ago, has been supported by people donating their winter fuel allowance, as suggested last month by Wendy Fredericks, North Norfolk District Council's portfolio holder for housing and benefits, and following the launch of a There With You This Winter campaign by this newspaper and its sister publications.

Wendy Fredericks, Liberal Democrat candidate for Mundesley in the 2019 North Norfolk District Counci

Wendy Fredericks, North Norfolk District Council's portfolio holder for housing and benefits. - Credit: Wendy Fredericks

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Mr Morton said: "We are redistributing the wealth in a way, by taking in donations and fulfilling food and energy vouchers for those in need."

But he added that the foodbank is "not the solution" to poverty.

"We are just part of a process but people are grateful for the help they get," he said.

Cromer food bank at Cromer Methodist Church. Picture: Danielle Booden

Cromer food bank at Cromer Methodist Church. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Danielle Booden

The removal of the £20 uplift in Universal Credit has had also had an impact, Mr Morton said.

"For someone who is living on the borderline, to lose £86 a month is a highly significant amount of money.

"There are one or two people it has tipped over the edge," he said.

An elderly person in winter

People who can afford it have been asked to donate their winter fuel allowance to food banks to help others through the winter. - Credit: Thinkstock/Archant

North Norfolk Foodbank is currently seeking donations of Christmas treats, from mince pies to selection boxes, which need to be received by December 12.

*Anyone wishing to made a donation to the North Norfolk Foodbank can do so via its website at www.northnorfolk.foodbank.org