WORCESTER Foodbank is bracing itself for another surge in demand over the winter as Covid-19 restrictions increase as confirmed cases rise.

The Foodbank, based in Lowesmoor, handed out parcels to over 8,000 people last year according to their website, which was already an increase of 21% from the year before.

Martin Boniface, duty and warehouse manager at Worcester Foodbank revealed when the first lockdown was announced, demand at the bank increased by nearly a third.

Mr Boniface said: “We saw people coming to the foodbank for the first time, that really was the result of furlough and people losing jobs”.

The latest infections data showed Worcester to be significantly better off than the rest of the West Midlands with 10-50 people infected per 100,000.

Despite this, demand is expected to rise again over the coming months after it plateaued as Mr Boniface explained: “As the furlough schemes unwind and delays in benefits happen, people are being forced to look elsewhere [for food].

“We think that’s probably what’s contributing to see an increased demand at the minute, the furlough scheme has changed from supporting 80% of somebody’s wages to 66%, we’re not expecting all employers to be able to bridge that gap”.

The furlough scheme, brought in by chancellor Rishi Sunak in march, introduced to avoid a recession on the same scale as seen during the 2009 financial crisis, was wound down as cases began to stabilise and Britain returned to work.

But cases are rising in the city, the current R rate, the rate used to quantify Covid-19 infections, is between 1.2-1.5.

The unemployment rate is at its highest since 2017 and dependency on foodbanks looks set to rise.