Jan 24 2013 by Hannah Bewley, Harrow Observer
CONCERNED church leaders are hoping to set up the first food bank in Harrow to help those in crisis.
Fifteen churches in the borough are working together to lead the project and will meet with representatives from Citizens Advice Bureau, the Trussell Trust, which runs foodbanks nationwide, and Harrow Council today (Thursday) to try to find a solution for families going hungry during the economic turndown.
The Reverend James Mercer, vicar at All Saint’s Church, Uxbridge Road, Harrow Weald, said the area needs a service for people who are suffering under benefit cuts and increasing prices.
Mr Mercer said: “Due to the benefit cuts there are increasing numbers of families that are finding it hard to make ends meet each week. Currently there are local provisions at churches in Harrow but these are on a small scale.”
Jill Harrison, chief executive of Citizens Advice Bureau in Harrow said they are seeing more and more people who cannot afford to feed themselves or their family.
She said: “It has been quite startling really. Yesterday we had someone come in without a penny to his name.
“It is a whole range of people who need help and it will only get worse as the benefit changes come in April. Many people are managing with their benefits or their salary and making it stretch, but if something goes wrong they need support.
“This is a way of the community coming together to help people.”
The CAB has helped 36 families in the last six months who were struggling to afford food, seven people who needed food and energy costs and 11 people who could afford neither food or public transport. Ms Harrison said the charity’s resources were already severely stretched.
Today’s meeting, at All Saint’s Church in Uxbridge Road, Harrow Weald, will be attended by Churches Together in the Weald and Churches Together in Harrow, with CAB, the council and Trussell Trust.
The Trust runs more than 300 food banks and said they are opening new ones at a rate of three per week to meet demand.
A spokesman said: “It’s still very early days but we would love to see a food bank open in Harrow to meet the huge need in the area.”
Mr Mercer said they were hoping to set up a service which would be available on week days and would launch in April.
Harrow Council portfolio holder for finance, councillor Sachin Shah said: “A foodbank will play a vital role in supporting people in need across the borough. A number of the borough’s churches will be leading on this project but we are keen to support it in any way we can.
“We recently gave £4,000 through the Harrow Housewarmers project, which will go towards this very valuable scheme.”