'Bad now and going to get worse' - Food bank fears as bills mount

Trevor Saunders and Lisa Agogue, who volunteer at Mandalay Wellbeing CIC down Victoria Arcade.

Trevor Saunders and Lisa Agogue, who volunteer at Mandalay Wellbeing CIC down Victoria Arcade. - Credit: James Weeds

The director of a Great Yarmouth food bank, which has given more than 34,000 food parcels to residents since the start of the pandemic, has shared his fears for the service's future.

Trevor Saunders, from Mandalay Wellbeing CIC,  has said that the £20-a-week cut to Universal Credit has led to some of his service users becoming increasingly worried.

"I don't think we've seen the start of it," Mr Saunders said.

"But already, the rise in concern is noticeable and significant.

"Since the news of the Universal Credit deduction, we've definitely seen people more desperate and upset.

"I had someone in here yesterday who was in tears - he has debt problems as well as mental health problems.


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"We're going to continue to do what we can while we can.

"But there's no guarantee."

Food parcels.

Over 100 people collect food parcels from Mandalay Wellbeing CIC each week. - Credit: James Weeds

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Mr Saunders, 55, shared that he recently found out his electricity bill is about to rise by 33pc.

"And we've got all the general overheads," said Mr Saunders. 

"It's bad now and it is going to get worse than it was during the pandemic.

"We have had no funding whatsoever and I just don't know how much longer we can keep this service going.

"So far, the only reason we've been able to do it is because of fair shares and donations from the public."

Mandalay Wellbeing CIC started their food bank at the beginning of the lockdowns.

As well as a week's supply of food for a line of over 100 people, the service also provides toiletries, nappies and sanitary products.

Recently, Mandalay Wellbeing collected thrown away tents from Sundown Festival and donated them to people in need of a place to shelter while they wait for permanent accommodation.

"We provide literally everything you can imagine and it's been flat out all the way through," Mr Saunders said.

"We're helping. 

"But we're not the solution and we've known that all along."

Mr Saunders continues to operate Mandalay Wellbeing while he can as he feels that homelessness and not being able to pay for food can happen to anybody.

"It could be you, it could be me," Mr Saunders said. 

"We're all just one step away.

"Nobody plans to be homeless, but it can happen in an instant."

For more information on Mandalay Wellbeing CIC, visit their website.

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