FOODBANK users in Worcester have praised the “lifeline” it provides as new data shows demand for the service is skyrocketing.

A support worker at Worcester Foodbank, who did not want to be named, told The Worcester News about how her client is helped by the service.

She said: “The person I support has recently lost their pre-paid cash card meaning they have no money left.

“I am here to get a care package of food and toiletries to keep them going for the week. The reality is, people who are on next to nothing are living on a week by week basis. It would be a lot more difficult without the foodbank, so it is really important that it gets all the support it needs.

“It could be anyone who uses the foodbank, they could have lost their job or had a marriage break down. There is not a ‘type’ of person who uses a foodbank.”

READ MORE: Council's "interim" IT manager hired two years ago is on almost £700 a day

A new report from the Trussell Trust, who operate foodbanks across the country, said that it has recorded its busiest ever six month period, with more than a third of its emergency parcels going to children.

The picture in Worcester very much reflects the national one, and demand for food parcels has risen slightly more sharply in the city compared to the rest of the country.

During the first six months of 2019/20 Worcester Foodbank provided 3,533 food parcels, roughly 26 per cent more than the same period last year.

Almost 1,300 of those parcels were used to feed children, accounting for over a third of what was distributed.

The main causes for referrals were low benefit income (47 per cent), benefit delays (21 per cent) and benefit changes (25 per cent).

READ MORE: Abberley Hall welcomes jail sentence for former teacher jailed for abuse

The foodbank says this provides "a bleak outlook" which is putting tremendous strain on supplies, although they have been able to meet demand thanks to the "unwavering generosity of local people."

Grahame Lucas, Worcester Foodbank manager, said: "The hunger crisis in Worcester is deepening by the day and we're witnessing unprecedented demand for support as the flaws in our benefits system continue to starve people of the income they need to stay afloat.

"We cannot continue down this path which is unjust and unsustainable."

"In the coming days we'll be launching our Christmas appeal and we desperately need people to support us with the kind of generosity that has sustained us over the past seven years."

Trussell Trust chief executive Emma Revie said: “Our benefits system is supposed to protect us all from being swept into poverty, but currently thousands of women, men and children are not receiving sufficient protection from destitution. This is not right. But we know this situation can be fixed - our benefits system could be the key to unlocking people from poverty.

“This General Election, all political parties must pledge to protect people from hunger by ensuring everyone has enough money for the basics.

“We want our next government to start working towards a future where no one needs a food bank by ending the five week wait for Universal Credit; ensuring benefit payments cover the cost of living; and investing in local emergency support for people in crisis.”