Hawick Salvation Army is facing a chronic shortage of supplies for food parcels and is appealing to townspeople for help.
On Tuesday this week alone, they handed out 13 food parcels, two large family food packs and fed a pregnant woman and her two kids.
Speaking to the Hawick News, Salvation Army food parcel organiser Evelyn Sangster said: “Things have become quite chaotic over the past two weeks and there is a real shortage of food parcels.
“People are really struggling and some, who are on benefits, are facing increased numbers of sanctions. This can have a huge impact on their lives and the lives of their children.”
But it’s not just the unemployed or those on benefits who turn to charity handouts in order to feed themselves.
Mrs Sangster, who distributes the parcels alongside her husband Gilbert, said: “We deal with people who are on benefits and those who are in work.
“Hawick folk have been extremely generous and the Salvation Army will make sure people don’t go hungry but stocks of food are low and donations are welcome.”
Rona Calder, who manages the Hawick branch of the Citizen’s Advice Bureau, added: “There has been a huge rise in sanctions and this is worrying.
“And it is not just affecting people on benefits, this also impacts on people on low wages. It can be something simple like a bill for car repairs that forces someone into a situation of needing help.”
Sanctions, which mean benefit payments being stopped or reduced, can be handed out for periods between two weeks and six months. Sanctions can be handed out because an advisor decides that a claimant has not met the terms of their ‘Job Seekers Agreement’, has failed to attend an interview or meeting with the Jobcentre, or hasn’t applied for enough jobs.
The Hawick News highlighted a massive surge in food parcel demand in the run up to last year’s festive period when almost 100 food parcels were handed out in the week before Christmas. Commenting this week, Hawick Corps Officer, Lt Caroline Brophy-Parkin, said: “We are concerned about the volume of parcels we are receiving requests for because stocks are running low. It seems that a new batch of sanctions has been handed out and we are being inundated by referrals. Of course when stocks run low Hawick Salvation Army buys the food so we are never without but that has an impact on other things that we do that require funding.”
Hawick and Denholm Councillor Watson McAteer added: “This is a worrying trend and the evidence over the past few years supports the fact that we have a real problem in Hawick. There is clearly a lot of good work being done by many individuals and agencies but the fundamental problem is not going away and we need to find a collective multi-agency way of addressing this for the longer term.”
Food donations can be handed into the Salvation Army Citadel in Croft Road and also at the Hawick News office, 4 Towerdykeside.