MORE than 12,500 people had to turn to Wirral Foodbank for help in the past year, close to double the number it helped the year before.

Wirral Foodbank, which has 14 distribution centres across the borough, told the Globe it helped 12,597 people between April 2013 and the end of March 2014.

That figure includes 4,429 children whose families did not have enough money to buy food for the week.

In April 2012 to April 2013, the charity saw 7,459 turn to it for help.

Demand for emergency food has more than doubled in one year across the nation, with many Foodbank managers putting this down to changes in benefits and Government sanctions.

Jayne Branch-Murray, secretary at Wirral Foodbank, told the Globe more working people are now turning to the Foodbank than twelve months ago.

She said: “Some of the changes in benefits last April made a big impact.

“It’s the length of time for people when they change from one benefit to another, the length of time it takes to sort it out that is the problem.

“We are seeing more working people coming to us now who must be on zero hours contracts or are just managing to manage their money when they are hit with a big bill.

“If their car needs a new tyre or their children need new shoes, it’s a big expense that comes in that particular week and that’s when they need the foodbank just for a one off.”

In a recent survey by The Trussell Trust, who run foodbanks across the country, 83% said increasing benefit sanctions had been the cause of the rise in people needing their help.

Wirral Foodbank provides three days’ nutritionally balanced food and support to each person referred to it by a partner agency.

Growing demand has seen the team expand, with more than 200 volunteers now helping out at the foodbank’s 14 distribution centres and warehouse.

Each person who is referred to the Foodbank is given three vouchers, with each voucher entitling them to three days of food.

Jayne said: “Some people manage to make their food parcels last a bit longer.

“The people who maybe are working and they just had a bill drop through the door, the three days of food are enough for them because they’ll get their wages.

“But sometimes, when people have had their three days food and after working with the same agencies getting the help and support they need to get out of the problem, they go back and they need more help so the agencies ask us for a fourth voucher.

“When it’s a benefit change, or someone is in debt and trying to sort through their problems with the CAB, it takes a bit longer.

“We can’t feed everyone indefinitely and they have to be getting help and support to be referred to us but as long as people are working with the same agencies, we can help.”

Birkenhead MP Frank Field, who as set up an all-party Parliamentary inquiry into hunger and food poverty in Britain, said: “There may also be hundreds of people going hungry in Wirral who do not use Wirral Foodbank.

“This shows the importance of our national inquiry into hunger and food poverty.

“We want to look at the deep-seated causes of hunger and examine what other forms of help there are for people living in food poverty.”

The demand for food is so great on Wirral that the wives of England footballing legends, John Barnes and Mark Wright, are planning to open their own distribution warehouse.

Although it is completely separate from the existing foodbank, Jayne told the Globe she hopes they can work together.

Despite receiving tonnes of food on a weekly basis, Wirral Foodbank still needs the help of local people to fill their shelves.

At present, there is a shortage of biscuits, UHT milk, sugar and tinned fish.

If you can help, visit the foodbank warehouse at Unit 14, Wirral Business Centre, Dock Road, Birkenhead, CH41 1JW, or donate food at any One Stop Shop or Wirral library.