WHAT is believed to be the UK's oldest foodbank has received a welcome cash boost as it works to help those in need during the coronavirus crisis.

Trustees and volunteers at The Lord’s Larder, in Yeovil, have thanked organisations for their support as they endure a surge in demand due to the crisis - with numbers set to continue to rise in the coming months.

The Lord’s Larder Food Bank, which was founded in 1991, is believed to be the oldest food bank in the UK, with volunteers providing non-perishable food donated by more than 60 local churches, 45 schools and several community groups to communities in South Somerset and North West Dorset.

Mat Callaghan, a Lord’s Larder team member, said: “Before lockdown in February, we helped 407 people with food parcels. In March, we helped 1,104 people and since then we have been twice as busy as we normally are.

“We have coped well with the increased demand having helped over 3,500 people this year from the start of the Covid-19 crisis.

“We have seen amazing support from the community and from local businesses, and supermarkets giving food and money to the food bank, which we have found really encouraging.”

Housing association LiveWest, is among those to have stepped in, with a £1,000 donation.

“We were delighted to receive the donation of £1,000 from LiveWest," Mat said.

"The grant has been used to buy some food we ran out of, as we have given out 54,945 items in Lord’s Larder Food Parcels since March this year, including purchasing nappies and formula milk for families in need.

“It was great to see LiveWest support us in a practical way tackling food poverty during the Covid-19 crisis and caring for the welfare of LiveWest residents, and investing in the community around us.

“We are still not out of the woods yet and we are waiting to see the effects of those coming off Government furlough.

"Many will find that there is no longer a job for them and will be starting to receive Universal Credit payments, as well as those in the community who have rent arrears and landlords starting eviction proceedings.

“We could well be in for a busy autumn here at the food bank, but on a happier note it is so encouraging that there are organisations like LiveWest that care”.

Gia Hancock, tenancy sustainment manager for LiveWest, said: “We’re fighting as a nation against coronavirus, and we were delighted to allocate some funding towards The Lord’s Larder in Yeovil as they regularly support some of our residents and play a key role in the community.

“The welfare of our customers is our absolute priority and this has gone some way to ensure the most vulnerable are able to access food and other essentials.

“This will add to the fantastic work that is already going on out there, as people do brilliant things to support their communities.”

In pledging the cash, LiveWest is keen to bolster groups and organisations already rallying to provide support to the most vulnerable people in society.

A total amount of £22,200 funding has been awarded to 27 food banks across the southwest, in places where LiveWest has the highest number of its properties.

Tim Wotton, grants and social value manager for LiveWest, added: “We know foodbanks are struggling with supplies and deliveries and the community response has been amazing, including a number of our staff who have stepped in doing local deliveries.”

The Lord’s Larder in Yeovil still needs cash and food donations to continue to keep up with demand and to ensure stocks for the future - visit https://www.ycstyeovil.org.uk/the-lords-larder/ for more details.