Outside an Erith church on any given Wednesday there are dozens of people who have no choice but to queue for a week’s worth of food.

The Trussell Trust runs five foodbanks across Bexley, but midweek at Queens Baptist Church is the busiest day for volunteers.

Reliance on foodbanks nationally has rocketed, and in Bexley the number of packages being handed out in a month has more than tripled since centres were opened five years ago.

Mums with young kids, families with teenagers and elderly single men all wait for their number to be called so they can chat to a volunteer and get their parcels.

Volunteers – and “clients” as they are referred to – say the controversial roll-out of Universal Credit has, no doubt, caused a huge surge in people relying on charities for meals.

Universal Credit was designed to make the benefit system easier by combining payments into one, but it has had widespread criticism over complications and delays, leading some of Bexley’s poorest residents to use charities to get by day-to-day.

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One ex-scaffolder told the Local Democracy Reporting service the system is “completely flawed.”

The dad, who has six kids, said he waited five months to be told the benefit he was receiving before Christmas was being taken away – and in the meantime, he has been using foodbanks to survive.

“The system is flawed. It’s f***ing broken,” he said. “The whole thing should be scrapped. People go from being paid every week to be paying every month and struggling.

“All I have to do is worry about myself – but these mums with kids, it’s horrendous. It’s impossible.

“I have family, but the older you get the less you want to burden your family members. I have no choice but to be here. I have no choice.”

Some clients said the change to Universal Credit has caused mental health problems, with one saying: “It’s a never-ending cycle of doom.”

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Universal Credit users said they have been left with less money than they had before the change, and have faced long delays in being paid, with some saying they have under £50 a week to survive.

Other users, including an ex-builder with three kids, say foodbanks have become nothing short of vital.

The dad-of-two said he was sanctioned for missing a telephone call, meaning his benefit has been frozen for two weeks. He said he’ll be missing a month’s worth of money.

“I have enough to eat today but tomorrow would be the issue,” he said. “This is essential. We have to do it. It’s shocking but it is what it is. Even I’ve noticed the numbers going up, it’s mad.”

Clients have to be referred through job centres or schools, and have to prove they are deprived in order to get access to the foodbanks.

Not all clients are on Universal Credit, some are in low-income jobs – mainly retail or roles with zero-hour contracts.

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Volunteers say they are now feeding whole families, estimating their work benefits up to 200 people a week.

One young mum-of-three, a part-time carer, said she had no choice to use the centres.

With a baby that isn’t even a year old and two other kids to look after, the mum said it was because of foodbanks that they were getting by.

Volunteers say they have seen record numbers in recent weeks, and the trend shows no signs of slowing down.

In the last month centres have hit milestone numbers of handing out 50 packages a day to those in need. It’s hard to judge how many people will come, volunteers said, but today there were 18 handouts within the first hour.

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Bexley Council said it was aware of an increase in the borough’s foodbanks, and is helping where it can.

A spokesman said: “We have seen an increase in the number of people using foodbanks in Bexley, partly due to an increase in need, but also thanks to a better awareness of the foodbank network in the borough.

“We provide storage space for the foodbank network, led by Avery Hill Charitable Trust (linked to the Trussell Trust). We work closely with them, as well as the Job Centre and Citizens Advice.

“Our partnership provides us with good insight into the complexities of the welfare issues in Bexley and helps us to encourage people back into work and put them in touch with local support services.

“We also host a regular Welfare Advice Providers Forum, which brings key providers together to look more closely at any increased demand for services, the reasons behind it and how we can support more residents in the future.”