The Mouth – Bournemouth – Poole – Christchurch

Food bank opens in Boscombe

By Gerald Gilbert

After months of deliberation a much needed food bank has opened its doors in Boscombe.
The Reverend Sue Dowling set up the outlet at Saint George’s church in Havilland Road recently after being asked by the Boscombe Forum.
Others involved said it was established due to the increasing demand and the fact that the already established Charminster food bank was too far for Boscombe residents to get to.
Louis, who volunteers for the BH1 project in Palmerstone road where food vouchers are issued, said: “Now because the numbers are getting bigger they (at Charminster) are finding it a struggle to cater for everybody. So they open at St George’s church.”
Reverend Dowling said “It is Boscombe helping itself”. She went on to explain that Boscombe is one of the most deprived areas in the UK ranking 113th out 2,500 in a recent league table.
Soon after opening the food parcels were claimed by 16 people in just four hours and number keep on increasing.
Louis at BH1 said there were ‘loads more’ people claiming food vouchers recently and overall the project has seen numbers of service users double in one month.
Demand is such that it is now open four days a week instead of two. The reverend Dowling said that since opening she has been in undated with volunteers.
So many people relying on charity for food has led to strong condemnation with all involved, including a Tory councillor blaming the government and it welfare reforms.
Jane Kelly conservative councillor for Boscombe West said: “We would hope the government would get their act together and pay the benefits when they are due.”
Ben Grower a labour councillor in the area was most condemning and adamant that the Government were to blame. He said: “The government are causing poverty in this area. The government is creating the necessity for food banks.” He compared the current situation to Dickensian times.
Dennis a food bank volunteer said: “The main reason they come here is money is tight and their benefits are not being sorted out.”
The very need for a food bank and reliance on a charity has provoked anger from others.
Reverend Dowling said of the situation: “It’s shocking, did you know that for the first time since the First World War the Red Cross is distributing food in this country.”
She went on to repeat that she is shocked at the way society is at the moment.
Tabatha …. managerof the Boscombe Trussell Trust charity shop which raises money for the food bank said: (The situation is) “Pretty bad. We get customers coming in talking about their situation quite a lot.”
Louis from BH1 expressed his dismay at the rising numbers and that it ‘just shouldn’t be happening’.
Similarly Dennis a food bank volunteer said: “I don’t think people should have to rely on food banks at all.”
When questioned about the council’s responsibility to and its role in the crisis Jane Kelly was defensive. It was put to her that there should not be people from all sections of the community including children going hungry through no fault of their own.
She said” “Absolutely, I agree with you. It’s very sad but it’s not the fault of the council.
She added: The council are doing all they can to help.
She mentioned a £1,000,000 welfare fund that they have put in place for people struggling in Boscombe and the fact that they themselves are issuing food vouchers.
She reiterated her belief that it was welfare reforms plus cuts to council funding by the Government that lay at the heart of the problem. However she said the council have spoken to Eric Pickles the minister for communities and explained just how difficult it is for them. He explained that the Government only has so much money as well and they have to cut back.
Ben grower challenged the present council and the government’s explanations. He said: “The government is giving rich people tax cuts and bankers bonuses” and “We would certainly try a lot harder than this council does.”

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