Lisburn food bank plea for support after shelves emptied
A food bank in Lisburn that helps the most vulnerable people in society has said unprecedented demand on the service has left its shelves empty.
The food bank has issued a desperate appeal for donations of vital supplies to ensure that families do not go hungry as the winter months approach.
The organisation has said the combination of benefit reform and cost of returning to school is having a devastating effect on parents who are struggling to make ends meet.
Among the items they are looking for are jam, tinned custard, coffee, non-tomato pasta sauces, sugar, biscuits, porridge and rice pudding. They have also appealed for sanitary products.
A Facebook post, accompanied by pictures of almost empty shelves, said: "We are almost empty. This is a statement we never thought we would make, but with the pressures of school uniforms, the long summer break and of course Universal Credit, we have been very busy in the food bank. While we always have too many baked beans (almost half of our stock is made up of beans), we are low on almost all the other items. Thank you for your ongoing support, every donation is greatly appreciated and put to good use."
Lagan Valley MLA Pat Catney, who has offered his office as a drop-off point for donations, said: "It's an indictment on the society we've created that the demand for supplies from food banks is so overwhelming.
"With the welfare mitigation package due to end in a few months, this situation will only get worse. That's why we've written to the Secretary of State to request an extension of the provisions in the absence of an Executive.
"It is so frustrating that I can't do what I was elected to do and help change the law to protect the most vulnerable here. The price for political failure is being paid by those least able to cope. It's a disgrace."
Charlene Brooks, chief executive of Parenting NI, said households across Northern Ireland are struggling to pay their bills.
"It impacts on mental health, it results in relationships breaking down, it creates stresses that means that perhaps parents aren't able to be the type of parent they would like to be," she said. There is a whole cycle and knock-on effect when parents experience financial difficulties and we must educate and support parents to help them make informed decisions around things like budgets, or even just how to say no to your child when they are asking for an expensive toy."
Lisburn Food Bank is open to receive donations between 11am and 1pm on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, or there are permanent donation points at Sainsbury's and Tesco.