Demand for Grace Trust food bank soars

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During the course of 2019 the charity gave out 1,256 bags of food to Islanders in need, a figure which had already risen to 2,881 for the current year by the end of last month.

Commenting on the trend, which mirrors reports from charities in the UK, the trust’s general manager, Vini Jones, said: ‘There is a lot of genuine need out there. There are still a lot of people that we only see once – it’s usually about 50% of the people that we only see once.

‘But a small percentage take about 25% of our food, so there’s that group that are completely dependent on it, which can be a little bit worrying.’

While the figures show a huge increase on pre-pandemic levels, numbers are falling from the peak experienced in March this year, when 380 food bags were given to 169 individuals. Last month, 255 bags were given to 129 people.

However, the full extent of the impact of Covid-19 – which Mr Jones put down to a loss of lower-skilled jobs – can be seen by comparing this year’s figures with those of 2019, when demand peaked at 125 bags of food in January and October that year, and remained below 100 in five months of the year. In 2021, the figure has not dropped below 200 in any month, and rose again in November after seven months of consecutive decline following the March peak.

Mr Jones identified as a further worrying aspect the age range of those calling upon the service. Data compiled last year, when the charity collaborated for part of the year with other providers, indicated that the largest number of beneficiaries of the service were in their 30s and 40s, when they might be expected to be at their most economically active, Mr Jones pointed out.

‘We try not to do the food delivery outside the monthly distribution project, otherwise we would be doing it for 350 people, but also it’s really important for me that we are not a one-stop shop. You have got to try to keep them motivated and it’s important that they have go get help from somewhere else; otherwise, you will never convince them that they can think beyond this and they can get work. They may only be in their 40s with another 20 working years ahead,’ he said.

In addition to providing its food bank, the charity also delivers supplies to around 60 homes each month, in addition to providing cooked food and organising activities for those who the charity describes as ‘marginalised in society’.

Vini Jones is the subject of the Saturday Interview on pages 10 and 11.

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