The foodbank, which has seen a 60 per cent increase in the people relying on its service over the last two years, says the summer holidays are a particularly difficult time for families struggling with money, and this time of year often results in the charity’s stocks running low.
“Parents have extra costs in the summer,” explained Dawn Stanford, operations manager at Nourish Community Foodbank, speaking to the Times.
“Childcare costs in particluar, which for parents in Tunbridge Wells, could be more than £40 a day. So it only takes one unexpected bill and people suddenly find themselves in difficulty.”
She said currently they are helping up to 80 families each week by handing out around a ton of food and essential household items.
This has meant supplies have been running desperately low leading up to the summer holidays, particularly of certain key items, such as tinned food, pasta, cereal and toiletries.
To improve the situation, Dawn took to social media last week, and wrote: “We need your help please! Some of our shelves are looking worryingly empty & only 4 weeks to school summer hols; when we see an increase in need for food bags. Pls can you help us re-stock from the attached list?”
Childrensalon, the leading Tunbridge Wells-based children’s fashion retailer, came to the rescue and called the foodbank.
“They are so good to us,” said Dawn. “They called me on Monday morning and said ‘we will meet you at Sainsbury’s’ and they just took us shopping.
“They bought us very nearly a week’s worth of food. They are so generous, as are all the people of Tunbridge Wells who have offered their support since we put out the appeal,” added Dawn.
Denise Hamilton, from the leadership team at Childrensalon said they are only too happy to support such a ‘vital and life changing’ service.
She said: “Working with vulnerable members of our community, many who are not mobile either through illness, age or other heart-breaking circumstances, Nourish provides a lifeline delivering vital food supplies to the client’s door with a smile thanks to Nourish’s caring team.”
A borough councillor who has spent years working to support Dawn and her team at Nourish, says one of the main reasons people in Tunbridge Wells and Tonbridge suffer food poverty is due to the high cost of housing.
Labour Southborough & High Brooms councillor, Dianne Hill, said: “The lack of social housing is forcing people in the borough into private accommodation where rent costs are so high.
“If you are on a low income and you are paying £12,000 a year I rent, there is very little going to be left.
She added that thankfully, things are beginning to change and social housing is coming more to the fore in planning decisions.
“The borough is starting to realise that ‘affordable housing’ is not affordable in the area,” said Cllr Hill.
She added that recent mergers between housing associations means that the borough could soon be on the receiving end of 300 social houses each year.