Gallery: Charity reports three-fold increase in number of families seeking food parcels

MORE than three times the number of emergency food parcels have been handed out so far this year compared to 2011, a charity has revealed.

The blame has been put on escalating food and heating prices which have taken their toll on families, with more having to rely on charity donations to get by.

Ipswich-based Families in Need (FIND) has given out 1,784 parcels so far this year which is in stark comparison to 542 in 2011 and just 378 the previous year.

Chair Maureen Reynel claims it is because of ever-rising living costs, people losing their jobs and money not stretching far enough.

She said: “Money just doesn’t go far enough with the terrific rise in the cost of food, heating and everything and the cut in benefits.”

Mrs Reynel said she has prepared parcels for a man who was recently forced to leave his job and is now surviving on just �55 per week.

“He was in full-time work and had to give up because he had a serious health problem and now he’s living on �55 a week to pay for food, bills and everything else,” she added.

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“He’ll be getting top ups on his gas and electric from us as well because his income has just disappeared.”

FIND’s food parcels contain the basics including dried pasta, potatoes and tinned foods that can be used to make balanced meals and are designed to last families for a week.

Mrs Reynel originally worked as a co-ordinator at a charity restaurant before opening the doors of FIND in 1990.

“We have got food at the food bank so there’s no need for anybody to be without anything,” she added.

On top of the food parcels sent out throughout the year, the charity puts together extra large hampers to give families a little luxury over Christmas.

Mrs Reynel said: “We have made up more than 1,000 food boxes and they’re ready to go out with Christmas presents for children and adults as well.”

Around 15 churches are part of the FIND network in Ipswich who work together to help the poorest families.

Paul Kenny, GMB General Secretary, said: “Millions of families face another miserable Christmas with little hope of things getting better.

“Instead of the recovery the government inherited in 2010, the economy faces a triple dip recession due to the failed and futile attempt to deflate their way to growth.”

Ipswich MP Ben Gummer said the fact there is a need for the parcels shows the benefits system still needs reform.

He said: “There are still real problems for those needing the safety net when they lose their job or when their circumstances change.

“There are too many forms to fill in and the administration simply takes far too long.

“We have cut the benefit bill by �10 million by tackling fraud, but we know there are people who have been on benefit for years who know how to use the system – while those who really need urgent help, the kind of people that Beveridge was thinking of when he set it up are left struggling.”

n Have you been helped by the charity? Write to Your Letters, Ipswich Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail starletters@archant.co.uk

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