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Keighley charity sees record demand for services
Updated 10:14am Thursday 24th April 2014 in News
A charity that provides meals to Keighley’s needy has seen record demand for its services.
Up to 100 people a week are now using the Intouch Foundation mobile soup kitchen in the town.
The figure is well over double the number who received help when the Wednesday-evening service was launched a year ago.
And another charitable organisation that has been offering a lifeline to the town’s hungry for years revealed this week that demand had reached unprecedented levels.
Since Christmas, Keighley Salvation Army has distributed almost 2,000 food parcels.
Both charities say changes to welfare have been a major factor.
Khurm Mehzar, of the Intouch Foundation, said: “When we started the Keighley soup kitchen we were serving 30 to 40 meals a week.
“That number has steadily increased and has reached 90 and 100.
“It is very sad to see so many people who cannot afford food.
“Many say their difficulties are down to benefit cuts but a lot have also been hit by rising utility bills.
“We see people from many different backgrounds and ethnicities.”
Keighley Salvation Army is now distributing about 100 food parcels a week – around 80 at drop-in sessions and the remainder through referrals from agencies.
Chris Bown, development manager at the church’s High Street centre, said: “Demand has grown massively in the last year and we find there is a peak during school holidays.
“Benefit changes are making a huge difference and hitting people hard.
“We are fortunate we get a lot of food donated, which is helping – Sainsbury’s is brilliant – and we’ve had great support from Churches Together in Ilkley.
“But we are always in need of donations. Since Christmas we have spent about £400 a month on food.”
Mrs Bown said there were probably many more people in need who don’t come forward.
“There are those who are embarrassed at having to seek assistance. Some are in tears when they come to us. “They feel ashamed at having to ask for help.”
Last week, the Trussell Trust – which runs a network of UK foodbanks – said it gave emergency food to 346,992 people nationwide in 2012-13, compared to 128,697 in 2011-12.