Food banks across the county have seen a huge increase in demand as the cost-of-living crisis continues to worsen.

Two food banks in Oxfordshire told this newspaper they have seen an unprecedented rise in the number of people using their services, with this only expected to grow as we head into the winter.

This comes as new figures released by the Trussell Trust yesterday show 1.3 million emergency food parcels were given out by the charity between April 1 and September 30, which is more than in any other period before.

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That is a third more than was provided during the same period in 2021 and an increase of more than 50 per cent compared to pre-pandemic levels, the charity said.

151,365 of those packages were handed out in the south east, with two Trussell Trust food banks in the Vale of White Horse providing 2,991 and one in West Oxfordshire giving out 3,000.

Witney Food Bank in Heynes Place was 50 per cent busier in October than during the same period last year.

Chair Mick Morris said: “There no doubt about it that the cost-of-living crisis is having an impact on people in Witney. We thought we were busy this time last year in the run up to Christmas but it is really starting to bite.”

Mr Morris explained that while it is not a new trend, there are people using their service who work but simply cannot make ends meet.

“This might be more acute in Oxfordshire and West Oxfordshire because it is an expensive place to live.

“Salaries, wages and benefits are not keeping up with inflation so that is a 10 per cent loss in people’s out-goings. What are people supposed to do?

“We have always dealt with very vulnerable people but we are certainly seeing more young families coming through the doors now,” he explained.

The 49-year-old also urged people to donate their energy bill support money to their local food bank, if they receive it but not feel they need it.

In Didcot, Didcot Emergency Foodbank which is run by Didcot Baptist Church has seen its number of users increase by a third.

In 2021, 4,330 people used the service but that number was surpassed this summer, with 6,000 people predicted to use the service by the end of 2022.

Andrew Snell, 67, manager of Didcot Emergency Foodbank, said: “As with all food banks we have seen quite an increase over the last year.

“We normally have two peaks during the year, a huge one in the winter and a small one in the summer. Last winter the peak was the biggest we have ever had and the ‘small’ peak this summer turned out to be bigger than last winter.

“That is the state of where we are.”

Emma Revie, chief executive at the Trussell Trust, said:  “These new statistics show that, even in summer months, people are struggling to afford the essentials and we are expecting that this winter will be the hardest yet for food banks and the people they support. This is not right.

“We know that with the right support and a stable and sufficient income, people don’t need to turn to food banks for support.

“Over the last few years, the government has acted to protect people who are struggling, and this action has had made a difference. They must now act again: with swift support now to help people through the winter, and with vision for the longer-term to ensure that social security is always enough to weather challenging times.

“We are calling for the Prime Minister to act decisively in next week’s budget.

“We urge the UK government to realise their commitment of supporting people on the lowest income with a broad package of support. As well as ensuring that benefits rise with inflation as soon as possible, this must go further to close the gap between price rises and incomes over the winter.”

You can donate to Witney Food Bank here:

You can donate to Didcot Emergency Foodbank here:  


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This story was written by Sophie Perry. She joined the team in 2021 as a digital reporter.

You can get in touch with her by emailing:

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