OLDHAM Foodbank provided more than 7,000 three-day emergency food supplies to people in crisis during 2017, an increase of 1,500 on the previous year.

Figures show that between January 1 and December 31, 7,078 emergency food supplies were supplied by the charity, compared to 5,554 during the same period in 2016. Of this number, 2,425 went to children.

Andrew Barr, Oldham Foodbank Manager said: “Throughout 2017 we met hundreds of local people either thrown into crisis following something unexpected like redundancy or sickness, or struggling with some of the pressures the year brought, like the rising cost of living, the current freeze on levels of benefit payments, and issues with Universal Credit.

“We hope that one day there will be no need for a foodbank in Oldham but whilst our help is needed we will be here to ensure people referred receive a non-judgmental welcome, space to be heard and the best support possible."

The data from the charity, which is part of The Trussell Trust network of foodbanks, also found that issues with a benefit payment, such as a benefit change or delay, remain the biggest cause of referral, accounting for 70 percent of all referrals.

Oldham Foodbank, collected and distributed 494 kilograms of food, equating to 617 meals, in the run up to Christmas, have also thanked everyone who supported them over the past year.

Mr Barr continued: "We couldn’t keep the foodbank’s doors open without local people as we rely on donations to make sure everyone receives a nutritionally balanced parcel of emergency food.

“Thank you so much to everyone who donated food, money or time in 2017 to offer some help and hope to people when it was most needed.

"We have seen an incredible response from local people over the last year and hope that as the New Year unfolds you will continue to offer your vital support. Thank you so much.”

The running costs for the foodbank are around £6,000 a year, all of which is raised locally to enable them to continue their work.

Costs include a van to pick up donated food and deliver to distribution centres, and other overheads like utilities and insurances. No one at Oldham Foodbank is paid.

Responding to the foodbank statistics Debbie Abrahams, MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth, said: “The dedication shown by the volunteers at Oldham Foodbank, in supporting local people who are struggling to make ends meet, is inspiring.

“Foodbanks should not be necessary in 2018 in one of the world’s richest economies.

“But, as things stand at the moment, we have a Conservative government that is determined to ignore the evidence of the misery their ideologically driven policies are creating here in Oldham, and across the country."

The foodbank is also welcoming any new offers of help with funding in 2018. Local businesses, organisations and individuals interested in supporting the foodbank’s work can find out more at https://oldham.foodbank.org.uk/