AS HUNGER strikes throughout the UK, The Salvation Army in Horsham is experiencing a rise in the number of people using their drop-in service.
Yesterday (Thursday), national news spoke of the increasing use of food banks - centres providing emergency food parcels for local people in crisis - just a day after the UK economy went into a double dip recession.
The Trussell Trust, which runs over two hundred food banks in the UK, says it has seen demand nearly double in the last 12 month, but in Horsham this something the Salvation Army has been doing for 18 years.
In Horsham, the Salvation Army has been running a service similar to this operation for nearly 18 years through a drop-in at the centre in Booth Way called Hope In.
The service on Thursday nights provides food, toiletries, clothing and a listening ear to people in difficult financial circumstances.
Captain Ian Woodgate, of the Salvation Army in Horsham, said that the church has noticed a rise in the number of people using this service.
After their drop in this week, he said: “Tonight we issued 30 parcels to single people and families. It is scary at the moment. Our food store runs out very quickly.
“It’s not the official food banks that are now being rolled out, but is the DNA of The Salvation Army and always have been.”
The use of this type of service has increased nationally due to benefit delays, job losses, and the increase in the cost of living.
Food banks run by the Trussell Trust operate on a strict voucher policy whereby they communicate with other social services to ensure food parcels are only giving to the genuinely needing.
But at Hope in, they do not run on the same strict voucher policy.
Ian said: “We initially provide eight sessions of help, and after that further support if required.”
Ian also said that some of the most unexpected people ‘who often look the most sorted and together’, tend to require the help of the centre in Horsham.
“To be honest in our job we are never surprised any more,” he said. “Over the years we have needed to provide for professions, professors, doctors, all sorts!”
Most of the food provided to the centre is donated but in the last month they have spent £800 on food.
He said: “Our church provide a large amount of the food.
“We have been granted a grant to support from Horsham Matters and Sainsbury’s are a great provider of fresh produce as well.
“Sometimes people will walk in with food donations. We do of course always need more.”