THE manager of a local food bank has told of her heartbreak as the charity saw a large increase in the number of working families and pensioners requiring emergency support in the past year.

Clair Coyle, a trustee at West Dunbartonshire Community Foodshare (WDCF), told the Post that over the last 12 months, the team has faced really difficult conversations with people in “very, very hard circumstances”.

The charity provides emergency food parcels to residents across West Dunbartonshire as well as running a baby bank, school uniform bank, and more.

Clydebank Post: Members of the team at WDCF with donationsMembers of the team at WDCF with donations (Image: West Dunbartonshire Community Foodshare)Clair said: “All of our projects have been busier this year, the cost of absolutely everything is just so high.

“We’ve seen a big increase in low-income working households getting in touch with us for emergency food support and also pensioners, that has been really difficult for our staff and volunteers who do the phones.

“We’re hearing of pensioners in very, very hard circumstances. That should not be happening in this day and age.

“There are pensioners telling us they have no food, they’ve got no money to top up pre-payment metres and are possibly sitting in the dark and cold.

“A lot of people who previously wouldn’t have used our service now have to do that. It is really difficult for our staff and volunteers to leave here at the end of the day and switch off, you just can’t do it.”

Clair explained that although the team do everything they can to support those in need, including referrals to services that deal with issues surrounding poverty, it’s “not enough” long-term.

The charity is always appealing for food donations – particularly meals that can be cooked in the microwave - as they prepare for another busy period.

Clair added: “Providing emergency food parcels and fuel vouchers is a very short-term intervention as the situation could potentially be the same the following week.

“Obviously it can take time for benefit reviews to be done and to get extra support to be made available, so as much as you know you’ve probably done what you can at that time, it’s not enough long-term.

“It does appear to be more low-income working families that are maybe just missing the cut-off for the extra cost-of-living payments/benefit support.

“You would expect if you’re out working full-time that you can cover your bills and you can provide food.

“I think we all know there isn’t a lot of money left after all of that’s sorted.”

This year, Clair revealed that WDCF’s Christmas toy appeal had seen an increase of around 130 children and presents were delivered to 850 youngsters.

Clydebank Post:

Clydebank Post: She thanked residents and local businesses for their “overwhelming” support and for coming together to make Christmas possible for so many families.

Clydebank Post: Clair said: “We just want to say thank you to everybody who has been in and donated to our Christmas appeals. The response has just been absolutely amazing.

“We see so much kindness and generosity every year at Christmas but this year when we know things are so tough for people the support from local residents, businesses, schools, nurseries, and community groups has just been really heartwarming and overwhelming.

“There have been tears at times. We are just glad we are able to do this.”