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‘Something has to give’: Aberdeen foodbanks struggling to keep up with demand for food parcels

Shelves have been left bare in foodbanks following the increasing demand for food parcels in Aberdeen. Supplied by Aberdeen Cyrenians.
Shelves have been left bare in foodbanks following the increasing demand for food parcels in Aberdeen. Supplied by Aberdeen Cyrenians.

With many facing soaring costs for everyday essentials, more and more people are having to turn to foodbanks to meet immediate needs.

Foodbank cupboards are almost being stripped bare as organisations are struggling to keep up with increasing demand.

With the cost of living crisis deepening, many who would usually just about get by are asking for help.

The price of fuel, gas and electricity and food is only getting more expensive and it is affecting those needing a foodbank but also many who would usually donate.

Seeing more families and people in work at foodbanks

Foodbank administrator at Aberdeen North Foodbank, Matthew McArthur, said the numbers of people using the foodbank this year are higher than they have ever seen.

He said: “March and April have been the two busiest months we’ve ever had. We’ve never had more people that we’ve fed then we did in April.”

Aberdeen North Foodbank is desperately needing donations. Photo by Kim Cessford/ DCT Media.

Last month, the foodbank in Bridge of Don gave out just under 200 food parcels and fed over 450 people. Mr McArthur said a lot of people seeking help had families or were actually in work.

“We’ve definitely seen a lot more people who are still in work needing a food parcel,” he added. “People who are working part time or supporting a few people on a full time salary or things like that. It’s just not going far enough.”

“We’ve seen a lot of families make up about half of our parcels at the moment, where as a year ago, we would have seen a lot more single people needing food parcels.”

Mental health has taken a hit

The cost of living crisis has just started “hitting one thing after the other” Mr McArthur said, making it difficult for people to know where to start in getting support.

He added: “They don’t know if it should be food provision or if they’re looking for gas and electric rebates or grants for that or for fuel. People are just getting to the point where it’s all just hit at the same time and it’s all very overwhelming.”

Depressed woman holding hand over her forehead
Many people’s mental health is being affected. Supplied by Shutterstock.

Even when people try to access help, it is taking weeks for them to hear anything back from Citizens Advice.

This delay in support also does not help with their mental health which recent studies have proven make it even more difficult for people in challenging financial circumstances to move on. 

Mr McArthur added: “I think the big thing is that for so many people it’s just so many things have hit at the same time and their mental health on top of that is really going to take a hit and has taken a hit.

“And when people’s mental health like that tanks it makes it a lot harder for them to access support.”

‘Something has to give’

Aberdeen Cyrenians said they are desperately needing donations after supporting an extra 100 people a week compared to last year.

Chris Bennett-Taylor, chief executive at Aberdeen Cyrenians, said: “People are really struggling right now and it’s causing a lot of stress for families who simply don’t have the income to cover all their bills.

“We’re incredibly grateful to the local community for continuing to donate even as the cost of living puts pressure on everyone’s budget, but unfortunately, demand is so high, donations just aren’t keeping up.

“This stretches our resources like never before after they’ve already been worn down by the demands of the last two years.”

The shelves at Aberdeen Cyrenian’s foodbank are almost bare after increased demand. Supplied by Aberdeen Cyrenians.

“Vulnerable people are in the same situation: the last of their savings have been used up, and food and fuel costs are still increasing.  Something has to give, but we don’t see demand for support slowing down any time soon.”

Many of the people using the foodbank have never faced these kind of challenges before, Mr Bennet-Taylor added. So it can be very tough.

“It is very stressful and overwhelming not knowing where to turn, what help is out there, or what they may be entitled to.  So, there’s a huge sense of relief from people who come to us and find out that there is a way forward, it’s such a huge weight lifted.

“Without continued support from the community this simply isn’t possible, supporters make a huge impact on people’s lives when they need it most.”

What is most needed?

Both foodbanks are in desperate need of donations of most staple food types and toiletries. We have listed the most pressing essential items needed:

Aberdeen North Foodbank 

  • Tinned meat and fish
  • Tinned fruit
  • UHT milk

If you want to donate, you can drop-off items at Tesco Danestone, Asda Beach Boulevard and King’s Church.

Alternatively, you can order a shop online from Amazon, Asda or Sainbury’s and have it delivered to the warehouse at King’s Church, King’s Way, Aberdeen, AB23 8BL.

Aberdeen North Foodbank is also on the foodbank app, Bank the Food, which updates users with nearby foodbanks and what items are most needed at that time.

Aberdeen Cyrenians

  • Tinned meat, fish and vegetables
  • Puddings
  • Pasta meals
  • Coffee
  • Sugar
  • Shower gels
  • Deodrant
  • Shampoo

You can donate by booking a slot on their website here. They also have collection points at Asda Garthdee, Craigiebuckler Parish Church and Nature’s Larder at certain times. 

For more information, or to get involved with The Big Food Appeal, click here.

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