More than 100 families and individuals can look forward to a happier festive season after receiving emergency food parcels.
The charity, Nourish Community Foodbank, which operates in Tunbridge Wells and south Tonbridge, has stepped up its operation this year with the number of referrals almost doubling.
In its first full year, 2013, Nourish received 2,800 referrals, a figure which grew to 5,000 for 2017.
This week the charity is busy delivering 120 emergency parcels to be enjoyed over the Christmas period. Last Christmas it distributed 90 parcels.
Nourish co-chair Olga Johnson said: “We are experiencing an increase in demand full-stop, not just this season.
“This has been in line with a growing number of benefit delays and a higher rate of domestic violence reported locally. It is a worrying trend.”
Foodbank operates by providing emergency parcels of non-perishable items that have been donated to drop-off points by members of the public.
Nourish volunteers sort food at the Big Yellow Storage unit on Longfield Road before delivering it to homes. A range of organisations can refer people to a foodbank for short term support.
Data provided by Nourish shows that four years ago 275 referrals a year were reported due to delays in benefits whereas the figure is now 550.
Moreover, the 2013 figure for domestic violence was 50 and is now 250.
“We don’t see the figure decreasing, we only see it increasing with the new system of Universal Credit coming in,” added Mrs Johnson.
“In addition we are preparing to cover all of Tonbridge [so the figure will rise further].”
Mrs Johnson said she is grateful to the hundreds of shoppers who have supported their Reverse Advent Calendar.
This has seen people donate extra items into the festive boxes every day in the lead up to Christmas.
Mrs Johnson added: “We have been really pleased with the food donated. Customers at Co-Op and Lloyds Bank have been generous and we are grateful for that.”
Nourish is currently appealing for more volunteers to deliver supplies and help sort products. To get involved email Dawn Stanford at email@example.com