by Tim Nuttall
More people than ever are needing Withernsea’s food bank, community leaders have said, as the cost-of-living crisis increasingly affects the “working poor”.
In the space of about 18 months, the number of registered members at the Shores Community Pantry has increased from about 200 to well over 800 – with new applications arriving every single day.
Many of these are from families who have been squeezed to the point of becoming the working poor and are now struggling to pay their bills.
It is an upward trend that its operators fear is simply the calm before the storm, ahead of an estimated escalation come the autumn.
Caroline Bilton, social affairs reporter, recently spent a day filming in Withernsea where she explored the work of the Shores centre and how it is helping people to deal with the rising cost of living. Filming took place around the centre and the Community Pantry.
Shores CEO Jayne Nendick said: “We’re getting more people needing the food bank and needing the pantry. The working poor is escalating – they’re not taking advantage of situations and if they keep hearing comments like ‘they don’t need it, they just need to make lifestyle adjustments’ – that is knocking their confidence even more.
“We have nurses coming in, we have teachers coming in, we have people who are working long shifts every day who are on their knees.”
The BBC series aims to shine a light on the situation, giving an honest account of how the current economic climate is affecting those in Withernsea. Further reports are planned over the coming months.
Caroline said: “There are many people struggling to cope with rising costs at the moment and the problems experienced in Withernsea are not unique. But there is a great community spirit in the town and there is some fantastic work going on to help people.”
The Community Pantry is accessible to any eligible low-income earners, or those in receipt of Universal Credit, who live within the South East Holderness area. Proof of local address, by means of bills or Universal Credit paperwork, and completion of a simple application form is all that is needed for the team to start the ball rolling with membership. It also enables them, in confidence, to assess whether people are receiving all the support they are entitled to.
With two bands of membership available, including one that offers 20 per cent off at the checkout depending on personal circumstance, the setup of the social supermarket strives to offer a judgment-free support network for those who need it.
Launched in September 2020, as a means of offering a long-term solution to replace the short-term fixes of emergency food parcels for a substantial number of its members, the Shores Community Pantry also continues to operate a food bank for those who are in urgent need of basic provisions.
Previously run from the Shores Centre itself, the amalgamation of the food bank with the Community Pantry means that stock can be stored, accessed and shared in a more cohesive way. Located in a separate section within the shop, the food bank contains pre-packed bags of emergency supplies that can be handed out quickly and discreetly to those most in need.
A referral is all that is required to access the food bank. These can come from the welfare team, Citizens Advice or other trusted sources.
For further information about the social supermarket or food bank, visit the Community Pantry at 151 Queen Street, Withernsea, or find them on Facebook by searching “Shores Community Pantry”.