©Alexandra Smart 2015

As one of the richest countries in the world, no one should be going hungry in the UK. Yet it is an undeniable fact that food bank use has skyrocketed in Britain over the past decade.

Figures from The Trussell Trust network, which makes up about two-thirds of all UK food banks, show a 73% increase in the number of three-day emergency packages distributed in the past five years to people living below the poverty line.

But why is this the case? According to The Trussell Trust, the top three reasons for referral to a foodbank are working people finding their income is not covering essential costs (33.11%), benefit delays (20.34%) and benefit changes (17.36%).

Here in the north west, we are the worst hit, with more packages distributed across the region than anywhere else in the country. 222,722 were given out in the last year alone – 83,019 to children.

During the winter demand increases as families on tight budgets are forced to choose between buying food or paying for gas and electricity. So if you’re in a position to donate, you could make a real difference in your community this Christmas.

Pic Trussell Trust

What does a typical Christmas food bank package look like?

Whilst for many of us, the thought of Christmas food conjures up thoughts of hot roast dinners, big cheese boards, lots of chocolate and booze, a Christmas food bank package is significantly less glamorous.

For the thousands in Manchester who will use a food bank this Christmas, their package will look something like this.

Standard parcel for three to four: one large box of cereal/porridge, four tins of vegetables, three tins of meat (e.g. ham) or vegetarian alternatives (e.g. kidney beans, lentils and pulses) if vegetarian, four tins of fish (tuna, salmon, sardines etc), four tins of chopped tomatoes, two tins of fruit, four tins of soup, four tins of baked beans, two litres of UHT milk, one litre of long life juice, two tins of rice pudding or custard, one packet of biscuits, tea or coffee, 1.5kg of pasta/noodles/rice.

The festive extras: Box of mince pies, dried fruit and nuts, Christmas crackers (the kind with toys/jokes), Christmas pudding, chocolate treats for children, e.g. a selection box, tinned ham or salmon.

Additional items offered when they’ve been donated: Toiletries: soap, shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant, feminine sanitary products, toilet roll.

If there’s a baby/toddler: nappies, baby wipes.

Where is your closest food bank (and what should you donate)?

There are currently more than 150 food banks across Greater Manchester, all of which rely on donations in order to keep their shelves stocked with supplies.

For those looking to donate food, dried, non-perishable and canned items are always highly prized. But other items that feature frequently on needs lists include sanitary products, toiletries and clothing.

You can check what items your local food bank needs most here. For the full list of food banks closest to you, visit Greater Together Manchester.

Below are some examples where your donation can make a massive difference. Please see the individual websites to check drop-off details.

Manchester Central Food Bank

Part of The Trussell Trust network, Manchester Central Food Bank on Oxford Road was founded in 2013 by a group of students to address food poverty and has since helped thousands of people. It is able to receive donations Monday-Friday between 10am and 4pm. Contributions can also be made through Sainsbury’s Local at 339-401 Oxford Road and Tesco Extra on Hyde Road in Gorton.

Manchester Universities’ Catholic Student Chaplaincy, Avila House, 335-337 Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9PG

Manchester South Central Food Bank

Bosses hand out over 1,516 three-day emergency parcels here a year. Based in Hulme, during the summer holidays the food bank struggled to meet demand and was forced to turn some people away. They will most certainly welcome Christmas donations. Donations can be left at the Stretford Tesco on Chester Road anytime Monday to Saturday, and between 11am and 5pm on Sundays.

Unit 3, The Wesley Centre, Corner of Old York Street/ Royce Road, Hulme, Manchester, M15 5BP

Compassion Food Bank

Based on Moss Lane East in Moss Side, Compassion Prison Ministry and Food Bank is a Pentecostal multi-denominational group which provides Christian witness across the prison service, as well as a community food bank for local users. They host breakfast clubs and coffee mornings, as well as providing both food parcels and fresh meals to help those in need, with donations greatly appreciated.

300 Moss Lane East, Moss Side, Manchester, M14 4SS

Fallowfield & Withington Food Bank

The Fallowfield & Withington Food Bank is also in The Trussell Trust network. They welcome donations to the building itself (10am-7pm), and there are also collection points at Withington Methodist Church (also 10am-7pm), RBS (West Didsbury and Wilmslow Road branches) and also Sainsbury’s (496 Wilmslow Rd and Birchfields Road branches).

Union Chapel, 2b Wellington Road, Fallowfield, Manchester, M14 6EQ

Barnabus

A Manchester homeless charity which has been operating for 26 years and helping as many as 600 people every week. Barnabus is currently open to donations of non-perishable food and toiletries which can be made to their support office Monday to Friday, 10am – 3pm. These contributions will make a crucial difference to providing hard up families with more resources at a particularly demanding time of year.

61 Bloom Street, Manchester, M1 3LY

Salford Food Bank

For anyone who lives in, or closer, to the Salford side of town, Salford Food Bank accepts donations of non-perishable food and toiletries. People wanting to contribute can drop-off donations at the Food Bank on Great Clowes Street from 9am – 5pm on weekdays. It is advised that people get in touch with the foodbank in advance to check that someone is available to take the donation. Various supermarkets in the area also serve as collection points, with more information available on the website.

Mocha Parade, Salford M7 1QE

Revive

Revive foodbank in Salford hands out three-day food parcels for refugees and asylum seekers. Items frequently in demand include dried and tinned food, rice, pasta, noodles, tinned tomatoes, beans, tuna and canned beef, household items, furniture and prams, computers and laptops. They also accept cash donations.

Spiritan Centre, Northallerton Road, Lower Kersal, Salford, M7 3TP

Coffee4Craig

Coffee4Craig was set up by founder Risha Lancaster in memory of her brother, who died of a heroin overdose in 2013. Coffee4Craig began as a reaction to his death and a desire to make the world a little better for those who find themselves on the streets. Their Salford-based food bank is in frequent need of boxer shorts, socks, coffee, tea, milk, sugar, toiletries and sanitary products. The charity also has an Amazon wishlist.

The Woolpack. Belvedere Road, Salford Pendleton, M6 5HE

Salford Loaves and Fishes

Salford Loaves and Fishes was formed following the closure of Salford Cathedral Drop-in Centre to carry on valuable work with homeless and vulnerable people. The new centre has a strong Christian ethos but is open to people of all faiths or none and strives to be inclusive. Frequently in need of non-perishable food and drink, the centre also welcomes donations of socks, boxer shorts, underpants, disposable razors, shaving gel/foam, shampoo and shower gel.

1 Paddington Close, Salford, M6 5PL

Storehouse Food Bank

Storehouse is Bolton’s food bank and distribution project, providing emergency food parcels to individuals and families who find themselves in need of help. It is open for collection by voucher holders on Tuesday mornings. Older people, those with mobility issues, or single parents and carers with young children receive a delivery on Monday evenings.

Environ House, Salop Street, Bolton, BL2 1DZ

Freedom Church

This local church in Bury also operates as a food bank for local people in need. It is open Wednesdays 1.30–3.30pm and offers a home delivery service for people with access difficulties. They also give out food on evenings and weekends by appointment only, meaning any donations are very welcome.

Link House, 35 Walmersley Road, Bury, BL9 5AE

Oldham Food Bank

Part of The Trussel Trust, Oldham food bank has over 14 different drop off locations for those donating food including Chadderton and Shaw Asda’s, Sainsburys Oldham and Lees, Moorside, Grotton and Delph Co-ops. Urgently needed items include tinned rice pudding, juice, tinned fruit, UHT milk, toiletries, toothpaste, shower gel, shampoo, tinned tomatoes and fish.

Salvation Army. Shaw, Oldham, OL2 8QY

Rochdale Food Bank

The Rochdale food bank is open Saturdays only Saturday 10.30 – 12.00. Urgent donations of semi-skimmed milk (UHT), long-life fruit juice and sugar are needed here alongside toiletries and other non-perishable foodstuffs.

1 Wesley Street, Small Bridge, Rochdale, OL12 9RW

Petrus Day Centre

Petrus provides residential and day support services to people who are homeless or in housing need. Items in high demand include blankets, sleeping bags, gloves, hats and scarves (for men and women), underwear (for men and women), toiletries including sanitary products, coffee, tea and sugar. Please note the centre can’t accept anything that is homemade or that contains tinfoil.

Petrus Hub, 73 Great George Street, Rochdale, OL16 1QG

The Wellspring

The Wellspring in Stockport is a resource centre for homeless and disadvantaged people. It also provides referrals into accommodation and has so far supported over 1500 rough sleepers into housing. Open 365 days a year, it serves around 100-150 meals a day. As well as donations of non-perishable food, fresh food and baked goods are also very welcome here.

The Wellspring, Harvey Street, Stockport, SK1 1YD

Stockport Trussell Trust

Urgently needed items include tinned fruit, rice pudding, long life orange juice and milk, tinned tomatoes and petfood. Donations can be left at Tesco Portwood and Handforth Dean, Sainsbury’s Hazel Grove and Cheadle, Asda Hazel Grove, Stockport and all Waitrose stores in baskets near checkouts.

St Martin’s Church, 112 Crescent Park, Norris Bank, Stockport, SK4 2JE

Atherton & Leigh Trussell Trust

This local Wigan food bank needs all the donations it can get this Christmas. The centre is also hosting a food collection drive at Atherton and Leigh Tescos 21st-23rd November and on the hunt for volunteers.

Olympic House, Platt Street, Platt Bridge, Wigan, WN2 5DA

The Brick Food Bank

The Brick exists to put an end to poverty and homelessness in Wigan and Leigh and relies on local support to exist. It offers a huge range of services to people who are homeless, in poverty or facing debt crisis. It is also Wigan’s largest foodbank.

The centre is currently seeking financial donations to help it support the community through the winter. Just £5 will provide a shower and breakfast for a homeless person twice a week, whilst £57 provides a day’s skills training to help someone back into employment.

No matter what you have to give, know it will make a difference.

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