Dec 21 2012 By Hannah Bewley
STRUGGLING families and people who have spent much of the cold winter hungry were given a hot meal and an extra serving of festive cheer at a busy food bank in Harlesden.
Michele Lawrence runs the food bank in Scrubs Lane which is open twice a week to people who are having trouble feeding themselves and their children and provided a Christmas lunch on Thursday December 20.
Labour councillors helped out and served food more than 50 people who have come to rely on the service as benefits are squeezed and jobs become scarce.
Miss Lawrence has been running the service on behalf of the Trussel Trust for more than two years and said that the number of people has increased in the last few months.
She said: "It has been extremely busy, each session we can do 30 or 35 people and before it was 10 to 20. We have got young and old. There is a real mix of everyone, it is not just the people we used to get. Everyone has been affected."
Michele and a team of volunteers provided a hot lunch and she said: "It is especially hard at this time of year. Even though it is just one day, people are going hungry, and it is Christmas, everyone wants to be somewhere warm and comfortable. That's the reason I want to give people this hot meal, even when they walk out the door there is not much more we can do, at least they can say they had a Christmas meal. It is to give them that feeling that they are not alone."
People must be referred to the food bank from an outside agency, such as social services, and come with a voucher which shows what they are entitled to.
It is currently the only one in Harrow or Brent but the number of food banks across the country has been increasing over the last year.
Miss Lawrence said they are in desperate need of storage space and office equipment as well as food, which is donated through supermarkets in the area.
Labour councillor Ruth Moher, Deputy Lead of Brent Council said: "We are doing everything we can to help. Labour councillors will be helping out over Christmas, the Council is providing computers and a printer, we are helping the food bank find a new home and we will be bringing together all our partners to discuss how we can support the food bank through 2013."
A spokesperson for the Trussel Trust said: "Foodbanks across the UK are seeing increasing numbers turn to them for emergency food. The Trussell Trust would like to say a huge thank you to everyone in Brent who will help stop people going hungry this Christmas."
If you are able to provide any office or storage space or any resources for the Food Bank, such as time or food, please get in touch with our reporter Hannah Bewley on 07909532453.