Thousands more people will be forced to rely on donations to avoid hunger, the boss of Colchester Foodbank has said.

Mike Beckett, who is the chief officer at the Colchester foodbank, said he is expecting about 20,000 people will be relying on the organisation this year - up from the 14,000 people who turned to the foodbank for help in 2020. Figures for 2021 figures are still being collated.

And Mr Beckett, who is a Brightlingsea town councillor for the Liberal Democrats, said he has seen more frontline workers seeking help during the pandemic including care workers.

Mr Beckett said the foodbanks have got increasingly busy every year since he started getting involved in 2017.

He said: “2020 was a bumper year – it was busier in 2021 and in 2022 it’s going to get even busier.

“But the one thing we don’t want is people having to depend on the foodbank – we want it to be obsolete by 2030.”

Representatives from the Colchester Liberal Democrats, Labour and Green parties went to the foodbank to witness the efforts of volunteers first-hand.

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Mr Beckett was joined by councillors Steph Nissen, Adam Fox, Lesley Scott-Boutell and Martin Goss on Saturday morning at the Tollgate Retail Park, where Colchester’s main foodbank is based.

“If you don’t aim towards making foodbank obsolete, then we won’t even get close to hitting the target,” Mr Beckett said.

“We want to see how close we can get to hitting that target – that doesn’t mean letting people suffer, it’s about allowing people to be independent so they don’t have to come back.

"A relationship breakdown or a job loss can make things difficult for people – and those things are often not somebody’s specific fault.”

Speaking on the range of people now relying more heavily on foodbanks, Mr Beckett said he was seeing more and more essential workers forced into using the charity.

“We’ve had more employed people coming in since the pandemic – people like care workers and people who are finding it very difficult to make ends meet, especially if they are on zero-hour contracts,” he said.