A Brighton charity has seen a five-fold increase in the food it is handing out and a dramatic shift in the people in need.

FareShare Brighton, which takes surplus food from manufacturers and shops and distributes it to charities, was set up in 2002 and supported 13 organisations with 48 tonnes of food.

Now, about 50 centres and agencies are in need of the food and the people in need of help are not just the homeless, living in hostels or refuges.

Last year the charity handed out 250 tonnes of produce.

Nathan Au, from FareShare, said: “Now the social groups we work with are hugely wider because the ability to purchase a decent range of food has reduced as costs have gone up 25%.

“In the last two years the working poor – people on minimum wage, on tax credits – are also trying to access food services.

“Ten years ago this is something we would never have seen.

“Someone with a job would never have got to that stage.

“They are perfectly capable, working, single mothers accessing food banks because they can’t pay the rent, bills and food.

“It’s mad when you think they could afford to live ten years ago.”

Struggling families

A day’s route around the city centre takes in Sussex Beacon HIV community care centre Nacro which provides vocational training for young people, a drug rehabilitation centre, a pre-school, youth club and a food bank.

Brighton and Hove City Mission’s Basics Bank is one of FareShare’s clients. It supports people in financial crisis with food and toiletries.

Coordinator Mervyn Weeks said over the last 18 months, and particularly in the past year, numbers have rocketed.

From opening three days a week and seeing about eight people a day the mission now hands out food parcels to up to 16 people a day, four days a week.

And a frightening number of its clients are now struggling families and women who have fled from domestic abuse.

“We didn’t use to get families and if you did it was a real rarity,” said Mr Weeks.

“In the main they were single folk, living in hostels and things, who needed a couple of bags of shopping to last them a week.

“Families need double or triple that and it doesn’t take long to deplete the stores.

“People are just really struggling and it breaks your heart to see what they are going through but they just seem unable to get out of that trap.”

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