STRUGGLING families in Fermanagh are being urged not to suffer in silence and avail of the local food bank if they cannot afford to feed themselves or their families.
Foodbank use nationally hit a record high during the last financial year. Figures from the Trussell Trust show a 48% rise in three-day emergency supplies given out by foodbanks. The Trussell Trust runs 37 food banks in the North including Enniskillen. According to their statistics, the use of the resource is rising faster here than in many other areas of the UK with low income being the main reason.
The Enniskillen Foodbank gave out over 800 emergency food packages to hungry families and individuals last year.
Manager of the Foodbank, Paul Dickson, is keen to break down the stigma associated with foodbanks.
“We’re not just catering for people on the dole or those who have had their benefits stopped. People with BMWs and big houses in negative equity are struggling just as much and starving themselves in order to pay the bills. Many people are feeling the pinch for various reasons and they are welcome to come in to us. We won’t turn anyone away because we don’t want to see anyone in Fermanagh going to bed hungry.
“We understand that it’s a hugely difficult thing for someone to swallow their pride and turn to a foodbank. We are here to help people who are in need for whatever reason whether it’s through addictions, debt or relationship breakdown. There’s no specific age group affected and we’re finding that it’s people right across the board who need our help. Our service is also not specific to Fermanagh either as we have people coming from the border counties of Cavan and Donegal as well as Tyrone.”
Working in partnership with the USPCA, the Foodbank is also now supplying pet food hampers in response to user demand.
“We are finding that a lot of people are feeding their animals before they feed themselves. When it comes to a tin of tuna the cat could be eating that while the owner is starving so we now have cat and dog food available,” says Paul.
Formerly known as Inside Out, the rebranded service recently expanded its opening hours, moving from one day a week to three, to help more people. The service at the Lakes Vineyard Church on Cross Street is open on Monday nights 6-8pm, Wednesdays from 10am-12pm, and Fridays from 2pm-4pm. Since last October until the end of this month, the foodbank has also been running a soup kitchen on Monday and Wednesday lunchtimes, offering people food, warmth and the chance to share their problems.
The foodbank works with over 40 other agencies within Fermanagh including The Salvation Army and St Vincent de Paul, as well as operating separate foodbanks in Lisnaskea and Brookeborough.
If you need assistance from the Enniskillen Foodbank contact 077 06499724 Monday to Friday, visit their website enniskillen.foodbank.org.uk, visit its Facebook page, or simply call in.
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Posted: 9:00 am April 22, 2016