COLCHESTER’S foodbank is serving dozens of desperate clients every day as demand soars in the face of falling volunteer numbers.

The foodbank’s chief executive officer Michael Beckett said the service’s pool of volunteers had fallen from 150 to around 50 as many are forced into self isolation.

Meanwhile demand has steadily risen since the outbreak of the pandemic, with more than 40 food vouchers redeemed every day this week.

“We are the busiest we have ever been,” said Mr Beckett.

“The last time we were anywhere near these figures is Christmas week last year, when we had 49 vouchers in a single day.

“The problem we have with recruiting new volunteers is, of course, it takes time and effort, and additional shifts because of the backlog.”

The foodbank has been forced to close both its Wivenhoe and North Station Road services, but the foodbank at Moorside remains open.

It has also been beset by people trying to stock up on goods they cannot find at supermarkets.

“We are committed to meeting the needs of people in crisis and tackling food poverty, however, someone who cannot get pasta from the shops is not in food poverty,” said Mr Beckett.

“Some have been trying to use our service in this way and I have had to explain it is only for people in crisis.”

Anyone who can volunteer, donate cash or deliver supplies can visit

Mr Beckett added: “We are going to carry on running for as long as we can and until we run out of food or until there is no one who needs our service.”

Cadent Foundation, funded by gas network Cadent, has committed £240,000 to help Trussell Trust’s network of 1,200 foodbanks.

Sophie Carre, head of corporate partnerships at Trussell Trust, said: “It’s hard for us to say exactly what the picture will look like in the coming weeks across the UK as each food bank in our network is a local charity, run by a community for their local community, and each will be affected differently.

“We’re working closely with our network to understand each food bank’s situation, offer guidance, and work out how we can best support them.”