PRITI Patel has praised staff at Colchester Foodbank for helping the "most vulnerable in times of hardship and crisis".

The Witham MP took a trip to Colchester Foodbank last week following an invitation from Colchester’s chief foodbank officer, Michael Beckett.

During the visit the former Home Secretary took time to understand how the scheme benefits people within the constituency.

She was also given a tour of the premises after a full briefing on the scope of the foodbank’s vital work.

Opened in 2008, Colchester Foodbank is part of a network of other foodbanks supported by the Trussell Trust and has help more than 13,000 residents with food supplies.

Gazette: Priti Patel with Michael Beckett, Colchester’s Chief Foodbank Officer alongside his staff and volunteersPriti Patel with Michael Beckett, Colchester’s Chief Foodbank Officer alongside his staff and volunteers (Image: Colchester Foodbank)

Working with partners across the voluntary and community sector in north-east Essex, Priti was told about how the foodbank supports those facing personal crisis and financial difficulties.

She also discussed the complex needs some users of the service may have, as well as the current inflationary pressures whilst meeting with volunteers at the service.

Speaking after her visit, Priti said: "I pay tribute to Michael, his team and the network of volunteers who support them and those who donate. They are doing vital work helping some of the most vulnerable in times of hardship and crisis.

"We are facing difficult times with high levels of inflation affecting household budgets and the Foodbank is part of a network of help and support available.

Gazette: The Colchester FoodbankThe Colchester Foodbank (Image: Colchester Foodbank)

“I welcome the work the Foodbank does with others to provide advice and assistance to those in need of help.

“The Foodbank covers a vast part of Colchester and North Essex assisting many residents with access to financial advice, health services and employment and training opportunities, thanks to the wider services they provide and their local community partners."

Michael said he very much enjoyed the visit.

He added: “It was a pleasure to meet Priti, give her a tour of the foodbank and to talk her through what we do here. 

"We take great pride in providing help to those most in need.”