Demand for foodbanks in Havering has continued to rise even as people in need receive cost of living support.

The first of three government payments, worth £301, started being sent out on April 25 and people eligible should receive it today at the latest (May 17).

In Havering, 26,700 households are eligible for the first payment in 2023, according to the government's website.

Yolene Ganga, operations manager at Rainham Foodbank, said government support was welcome but warned it would not make up the difference for most people.

“It is not meeting the need as we had hoped and we’ve also noticed demand for our counselling service has skyrocketed,” she said.

“Like with claiming benefits there is a problem where people slip through the cracks as they have other things on their mind – I have children to feed and I have to pay my bills."

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Ms Ganga, whose foodbank does not charge for services such as food parcels, counselling, or English language lessons, said support from other organisations in the area was vital.

One such is Collier Row Foodbank in Romford, where Timothy Ryan, Conservative councillor for Rush Green and Crowlands, volunteers.

Cllr Ryan said it has taken a lot for people to seek help at foodbanks. “Some people really don’t want to go to a foodbank but they really have no other choice,” he said.

“The problem is we are trying to help so many people, some people who never imagined they would be in this position for a million years.”

Ms Ganga and Cllr Ryan urged those in need to come along, not just for vital food parcels but also for a chat to address issues such as loneliness.

With more places such as Romford Baptist Church and Havering Islamic Cultural Centre opening their doors to provide foodbank services, residents struggling with bills have some respite, but this is not sustainable, said Cllr Ryan.

“I hope in time we don’t need to use foodbanks, but at the moment they are vital.”