Dorset:Figures show rise in foodbank users

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DESPITE unemployment falling in the last year in Dorset, thousands of people are still using food banks to help feed their families.

As reported in the Echo, the latest figures show that the number of people claiming unemployment benefit in Weymouth, Portland and Purbeck is down 41 per cent on last year.

However, the number of people using food banks has risen.

The 2014 figures from The Trussell Trust show that between January and April 9,982 people in Dorset were referred to food banks to receive three days worth of breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Figures have now come to light show that the numbers have broken the reached 10,000 mark from January to April this year, with food banks serving 6,735 adults and 3,265 children.

The number of people receiving help from Weymouth Food Bank has decreased since last year, but it has still assisted almost 1,200 residents.

Councillor Francis Drake has said that the unemployment rate did not show that people’s circumstances were getting better.

He said: “You can have employment go up but it doesn’t necessarily say that people will be better off.”

He added that he didn’t know what the answer was to stop the increase although he suggested that schools could offer more services to children such as breakfast before school.

“I think schools could be doing more, having breakfast in the morning before school. They are the future, our children. For some people, they’re a life line and they would be lost without them.

“I was brought up during the war and I was brought up on rations and we expected it then, but we’ve gone back in time. We shouldn’t have to have food banks – but then how would a lot of people manage?”

Margaret Buxton, co-ordinator at Weymouth Food Bank, has said she was surprised at the numbers of residents calling on its support.

She said: “A lot of clients struggle because they’re on benefits and they’re not coping or their benefits have been cut and they can’t survive. I was surprised that we saw over 900 people in four months.

“It takes quite a lot of guts to come through the door, people have their own pride and privacy and to come to us for help is quite a big thing.”

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