A 90-year-old woman has been forced to take an hour-long bus journey to a food bank every week so she can find fresh fruit and vegetables to eat.
Patricia was just one of over a hundred people who faced the cold to pick up a free food parcel, against the backdrop of Birmingham's bustling Christmas market. Charities are concerned that this winter might be the "worst yet" as the cost of living crisis shows no sign of easing. Patricia resides in Tividale, which is in the Black Country, however she ventures into the city centre to utilise the services of the food bank which was established by BeKind.
It's situated yards away from the festive market in Cathedral Square, with volunteers giving out free food and toiletries to those in need on Monday November 27. Organisers stated that this week 151 people attended the food drive, which is almost the average number from when the group was set up in 2018.
Volunteers were overwhelmed by the high demand but insisted it was all in the spirit of "putting a smile on peoples faces" and helping those facing hardship. Across the country, food banks are preparing for a busy winter with the Trussell Trust getting ready to offer more than a million emergency food parcels over the coming three months.
Patricia is a pensioner and did not want to reveal her surname. She uses the foodbank frequently but in addition volunteers to help distribute to others, Birmingham Live reports.
She said: "I come every Monday to help out and use the service. I love it here and I’m very grateful for it - they’re a smashing crowd. Fruit and fresh vegetables are so expensive these days so to come here and get some really helps me out. It’s a wonderful service - I travel an hour on the bus every week and I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”
Every Monday, BeKind hosts weekly food drives on Temple Row in the city center. Recently the organisation was nominated for a King's Award for it's services to the community, however the founder Yasmin Poulsen, from Solihull, said she was "scared" about the rising levels of demand being witnessed.
She commented: "When we started these food drives during the pandemic we were seeing around 40 people a week. Now it’s nearly 150 every week. The highest ever was 180 people earlier this year - we’re seeing demand growing for all sorts of reasons. We’ve got the cost-of-living crisis here and increasing levels of homelessness.”
According to new UK data, more than 1.5 million emergency food parcels have been sent out over the last six months. This week a report by the Independent Food Aid Network found 98 per cent of food banks were helping people seeking support for the first time.