Bexley households are torn between “choosing heating or eating” as a foodbank in the borough has seen a huge, and "unfeasible", increase in demand.

Gill Bates, project manager for Bexley Foodbank, fears it will be feeding close to 10 or 12,000 people by this time next year.

Between April 2021 and April 2022, the foodbank fed around 9,800 people, according to Gill – and since then there has already been a 42 per cent increase in foodbank users.

News Shopper: Donations at the Bexley FoodbankDonations at the Bexley Foodbank

Bexley Foodbank, which has around 100 volunteers, is now feeding more and more people each week, and Gill has started having to go out and buy food for the bank herself.

This is something she has never had to do before in her nine-year involvement.

Gill told the News Shopper: “We’re having to feed more people and we’re not getting enough donations.

News Shopper: Gill Bates has had to go and buy some food for the bank herselfGill Bates has had to go and buy some food for the bank herself

“We just can’t keep feeding them every week, it’s just not feasible to do that because we don’t have enough food.

“I’m having to go out and buy food, I’ve been doing this job 9 years and I’ve never bought food but it really has changed now.”

According to Gill, last month, the foodbank was donated 6,773 kilogrammes of food, toiletries and other products – but gave out 12,176 kilogrammes worth of supplies after having to use up reserves.

She says the cost of living has impacted those who need foodbanks and they include people working multiple jobs, homeless people, people facing benefits delays and disruptions, those in debt, domestic abuse victims and asylum seekers.

Gill explained: “The figures are growing and its astronomical the amount of people that are coming now.

“It’s quite scary.

“My worry is it will get worse, we just won’t get the donations and we won’t be able to feed people, I’m not sure what they’ll do to survive then.”

The foodbank urgently needs donations of products such as long-life milk, tinned fruit, vegetables, custard, cereals, meat, fish, coffee, tinned spaghetti, toiletries, washing powder, and strong carrier bags.

People in need are allowed to use vouchers to access foodbanks three to five times a month but due to demand this often rises to eight times a month.

Meanwhile, the Labour MP for Erith and Thamesmead has called on the Government to adopt a windfall tax to offset the cost-of-living crisis.

News Shopper: Abena at a pop-up foodbank organised by Peadbody in Thamesmead during the pandemicAbena at a pop-up foodbank organised by Peadbody in Thamesmead during the pandemic

Abena Oppong-Asare says she is being contacted by "loads" of constituents who are struggling to feed and provide for their families.

She has backed Labour’s proposal for a windfall tax on oil and gas companies posting huge profits as part of its emergency budget - and has called on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to adopt this.

Ms Oppong-Asare believes this will save most households up to £200 and is a better alternative to the pay later loan scheme endorsed by Rishi Sunak.

Ms Oppong-Asare told the News Shopper: “Household bills are high, food prices are going up and obviously taxes are going up as well.

“This is in conjunction with the fact that people’s wages are falling.

“I’m being contacted by loads of constituents who are struggling to put food on the table and provide for their families.

“There are people that are torn between choosing heating or eating.”

She says members of her community have written to her asking for help as they cannot afford bus fares to attend job centre appointments or to collect their Universal Credit vouchers.

Ms Oppong-Asare explained: “Referring people to a food bank does not help when people cannot afford the bus fare to go collect a food parcel.

“I think the Government is massively out of touch and I feel there’s a lack of understanding about how people are paying their bills.

“The Conservatives, in my view, are living on another planet.”

Bexley Foodbank was founded in 2012 and is part of a nationwide network of foodbanks advised by the Trussell Trust.

Conservative MP for Sidcup and Bexley, Louie French, was reached out to for comment.

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