Rotary Club Of Warwick

Jan12 - Rotary Hears about Poverty in Warwick

Warwick Rotarians returned after their Christmas break to hear about those for whom the festive season had been a struggle. Andy Bower, Operations Manager at Warwick District Foodbank, told them how the charity had seen an increase in demand of 23% in 2019 and he brought the club up to date with the needs they are encountering.

Also present were volunteers from “Make Lunch” who provide free lunches for children during the school holidays and see first-hand the difficulties mothers have in providing a hot meal for their children.

Warwick District Foodbank now covers an area including Leamington, Whitnash, Warwick and Kenilworth and has 7 locations where food is distributed. Several local companies help with donations and storage, as well as supermarkets who have collection points for dried and canned food, and other necessities.

During 2019 over 53,500 kilograms of food (over 54 tons) was distributed to over 5,000 people. This is over 1,000 kg to 180 people a week and rose steeply in 2019 over 2018.

Claimants have to obtain a voucher from a GP or other referral agency – Citizens Advice, Salvation Army, Social Services, local church, etc. to entitle them to assistance. The number of vouchers is limited to a “crisis” ending with the problem experienced being resolved. He emphasised that Foodbank is an emergency response not a long term solution.

Issues causing people to be so short of money they cannot afford food are: sudden crises such as redundancy; low income – zero hours contracts can result in being unable to plan expenditure; benefit delays; benefit changes; debt and homelessness. Contributing factors are the impact of Housing Benefit restrictions – “Bedroom tax”; Universal credit, tax credit changes, and withdrawal of Disability benefits.

The children of these families often receive free school meals, but during the school holidays go hungry. The churches of St Pauls in Friars Street, All Saints in Emscote, and St Michaels at Chase Meadow have joined a national charity “Make Lunch” and provide between them 3 lunches a week during the holidays. The Rotary Club stepped into fund provision of a small Christmas present for the 40 children on their lists which were distributed recently. The club is keen to ensure that mothers and children know about these “drop in” lunches, and to see that the churches are adequately funded.

Thanking Andy for his presentation Rotarian Jackie Crampton said it had surprised members, who had considered Warwick to be an affluent town, to discover that there were so many who could not make ends meet. President David Brain handed Andy a cheque to help their work and others gave him goods and donations to take away.

Andy Bower, from Warwick District Foodbank receives a cheque from President David Brain