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Housing association helps families in food poverty

Families hit by food poverty are being helped thanks to a donation by South Staffordshire Housing Association (SSHA) as part of its project to celebrate 15 years.

SSHA has donated £600, which it saved by reducing the cost of its annual staff conference, to the Wolverhampton Foodbank and the House of Bread in Stafford. Staff also collected non-perishable food items to donate to the two charities which provide meals and food parcels to people in need of support.

In total the donations have helped more than 135 people, including families and single people living alone or sofa surfing, who need to access emergency food aid.

The escalating numbers of people turning to foodbanks nationally is soaring, with reports of numbers going up from 129,000 people in 2011-12 to 280,000 in 2012-13.

These numbers are only expected to rise since the Government’s cuts to benefit entitlement from April 1, which will see families face tougher spending choices with household budgets for items like food and heating.

Janet Goode, director of customer services. Said: “Our business is not just about providing homes, it is about supporting our residents, some of whom need to turn to foodbanks for support. We know that things are tough with people’s money having to stretch further and further, and this is only set to get harder with the changes to the benefit system.

“We are providing support to help people prepare for the changes so they are on the front foot with their budgeting and can still manage paying for essentials such as rent, utilities and food.

“We are delighted that staff wanted to support these local charities which provide a, sadly, much-needed service of providing aid to people living in food poverty.”

Will Morris, coordinating manager at House of Bread, said: “The donations have provided food to 110 people. These will include single males and females, families, and people sofa surfing. The bags we hand out also have information about the food in them so we are providing nutritional advice at the same time.

“Our food bags are given out by a team of 150 volunteers, many of which are not from a care background but are people who want to help people in need.”

Gary Price, project manager at Wolverhampton Foodbank, added: “Support like this really helps us to continue to provide our services when we are seeing a real growing demand for food parcels.”

To celebrate 15 years of the housing association staff, board members and partners have launched a Make a Difference (MAD) Days project. This sees people from the association volunteer time and services to benefit community projects across the district, which have been nominated by residents and staff.

The MAD Days project will see more than 55 staff and board members donate their time to wield a paint brush, grab a spade, or set to with their toolkit, on a variety of schemes.

This is the fourth MAD Day project to be completed by SSHA. Others include a litter pick in Essington, a make-over of Littleton Youth Centre and creating a wildlife garden at Wombourne Primary School.

Photo caption:

Foodbank donation: Tony Price from South Staffordshire Housing Association and Wolverhampton Foodbank volunteer Katherine Twardun prepare food parcels to deliver to people living in food poverty.