Following the closure of three local companies, Okehampton foodbank has seen numbers needing emergency food soar from 20 to 200 per week. Unemployment in the Devon town has risen from 2% to nearly 12% leaving many former employees with no choice but to rely on food parcels from Okehampton foodbank until redundancy packages and benefit payments come through.
The plight of the people in Okehampton and surge in numbers turning to the foodbank has been widely reported by the national media. Whilst local people have rallied to provide extra food to meet the demand, the foodbank is still under pressure. Okehampton foodbank’s Andrew Morgan told the Guardian, “We are still appealing for food, it is desperately needed: some staff made redundant hadn’t been paid for weeks. There really are people with no money and they really can’t afford to put food on the table.”
Adrian and Kay Vernon were both made redundant from Polestar foods, Okehampton, and suddenly left with no money. With a four-year-old daughter to feed, Adrian told the BBC that his foodbox was ‘a lifesaver’.
Unemployment nationwide is at a 17-year high and foodbanks across the country are experiencing huge demand. This year the UK foodbank network estimates it has fed 60,000 people; an increase of nearly 20,000 people from the previous year.