The chief executive of the food bank behind hundreds of Christmas hampers for west Suffolk families in need is calling on the community for help ahead of the festive period.

Amanda Bloomfield, CEO of Gatehouse in Dettingen Way, Bury St Edmunds, has asked residents to help her team in the creation of some 700 Christmas hampers containing festive treats and food items by donating specific items that are needed.

These include cranberry sauce, bread sauce and small treat boxes containing chocolate and sweets.

"It is important to give those luxury items to the families who may be struggling and in a vulnerable position through no fault of their own," Ms Bloomfield said.

"It is particularly important for families with children. It is nice to have that little something special at Christmas time so they feel part of the community and celebrations." 

In September, Ms Bloomfield said she had seen an increase in people looking to use their food bank and Social Supermarket, but also noted a decline in food donations, meaning some services were proving difficult to provide.

She said she was particularly worried for this winter as rising bills and the cost of heating will mean more people than ever need help with food as well as the furniture, appliances and other household items Gatehouse provides.

Ahead of Christmas, donations have been promised from schools and businesses to go towards the 700 hampers, as well as around 40 weekly bundles that are given out to keep families going. 

"We are seeing a slight increase in donations now following some small appeals that I have posted on our Facebook page and social medias," said Ms Bloomfield.

"I put out a specific request for custard, we needed 1,000 tins, and we have now reached that which is brilliant." 

Donations of cranberry sauce, bread sauce, sweet treats and other goods can be made directly at Gatehouse in Dettingen Way, Bury St Edmunds.