DEMAND for foodbanks and financial support could rise again in Northwich, Winsford and Middlewich if businesses lay off workers when Government grants come to an end.

That is the concern that both Mid Cheshire Foodbank, in Northwich and Winsford, and Middlewich and District Foodbank have as they continue to support our community’s most vulnerable in the pandemic.

It comes as new figures from the Office of National Statistics show that in the month up to April 9 – when lockdown measures began – the number of unemployed Universal Credit claimants almost doubled in Cheshire.

In Cheshire East, which includes Middlewich, 8,870 people were claiming out-of-work benefits as of April 9 compared to 4,680 a month earlier.

Rachel Pendleton, from Middlewich Foodbank, told the Guardian that while demand has now quietened down compared to when the pandemic first hit the community, it is still far higher than usual and could rise again later this year.

Winsford Guardian:

She said: “Last year in total we helped just under 2,500 people. In the first two months of this financial year [April and May] we have already helped nearly 2,000 people. The difference is massive.

“In October, when the furlough scheme runs out, I think there will be mass redundancies.

“Although I think things will quieten down in the short-term, as children return to school, as soon as businesses have problems I think people might start struggling again.”

Meanwhile in Cheshire West, including Northwich and Winsford, 10,130 people were claiming out-of-work benefits in as of April 9 compared to 5,380 a month earlier.

Nathan Pardoe, from Mid Cheshire Foodbank, also fears that demand will surge again later this year when furlough, mortgage holidays and rent relief all come to an end.

Winsford Guardian:

It comes as the foodbank continues to help around double the usual amount of families it normally supports.

“The worry is that we will start to see a massive spike because people will be facing new pressures that they have not had,” he said.

“We are expecting more demand. It is the calm before the storm. The economic impact of coronavirus is enormous.”

How to get support

As part of the Feed our Foodbank campaign, the Guardian is shining a light on foodbanks in Northwich, Winsford and Middlewich and pointing the public in the right direction of where to get help.

Mid Cheshire Foodbank provides food parcels from its distribution centres in Northwich and Winsford by appointment, while deliveries can be arranged for residents who are unable to leave home.

Residents can now text or call Sean, from Citizens Advice in the Community, on 07894 238 963, from 9.30am to 4.30pm on weekdays for a referral.

Alternatively, call Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Covid-19 helpline on 0300 123 7031, from 8am to 7pm, seven days a week.

Meanwhile, Middlewich and District Foodbank supports residents in the town with a delivery service.

Middlewich residents are encouraged to contact their GP or their child’s school for a referral.

Alternatively, call Citizens Advice on 0344 5766 111.

How you can help

If you are able to support Mid Cheshire Foodbank, donations can be made at Asda, in Northwich and Winsford, Tesco and Waitrose, in Northwich, and Sainsbury's, in Hartford.

Recently, the foodbank has been short of pasta sauce, tinned fruit, tinned potatoes and soap.

Financial donations can also be made online at justgiving.com/midcheshirefoodbank

Meanwhile, donations can be made to Middlewich Foodbank at Jack’s, Lidl and Morrison’s, in Middlewich.

The foodbank this week needs tinned fruit, rice pudding, chocolate, Angel Delight and crisps.

Financial donations can also be made at middlewichdistrict.foodbank.org.uk

The Guardian would like to thank you for your continued generosity during the Feed our Foodbank campaign.