COLCHESTER’S Food Bank has seen a drastic rise in the number of people needing help.

The charity, based on Moorside Business Park, hands out food packages to people who cannot afford to eat.

Linda Hurr, manager, said the number of people being referred to the charity has more than tripled since June last year.

She said: “Things are not getting any better by the looks of it.

It is terrible. It’s really hard for people.

“We are still seeing the effects of the changes to the benefit system.

“It is a difficult time and the cost of living has gone up.”

She said the number of people coming to her for help peaked towards the end of the year.

She said: “It was really busy over Christmas and last week as well.

“This time of year affects people more.

“I don’t think it is necessarily Christmas, although that does have an effect, it is the winter period in general.

“It is when things go wrong and there is the increased cost of heating.”

Last May, the charity received 1,733kg of food donations, allowing volunteers to give out 133 parcels.

In November and December, people donated 13,321kg of food.

Due to the high volume, organisers were able to increase the size of the parcels handed out. In December alone 335 boxes were given out.

Any extra donations will be given out over the next couple of months.

However, despite an increase in demand, the number of food donations has also increased.

This has meant the food bank has been able to help everybody during the winter months.

Linda said: “People have been fantastic.

“No matter how much we give out we’ve always got donations coming in. That is one of the things that always amazes me.

We are blessed with people’s generosity.

“Without that we wouldn’t be able to operate at all.”

People are referred to the food bank by one of 90 professional organisations, including schools, GPs and social services.

Linda said a large proportion of the people who come to her for help are single mothers and exservicemen.

She said: “We help a wide variety of people.

“The vast majority are genuinly really struggling to make ends meet.

“We’ve had some mothers coming in who have gone without food so they can buy their children school shoes and uniforms.

“It is awful to see, although we would all do the same.”

  •  From pasta to puddings, Colchester Food Bank accepts any indate non-perishable food.

Download its shopping list at Donations can be delivered to the warehouse at Unit 33, Mooreside Industrial Park, Colchester, on Mondays, Thursdays or Fridays from 10am to noon.

Call Linda on 07957 809041 or e-mail You can also donate food at Co-op branches around Colchester.