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City Mission 'distraught' as clients turned away after shelves laid bare

THE shelves of the storage room would usually be stacked with tins of soup, fish and vegetables until the end of summer.

But demand has been so high this year the food bank at Glasgow City Mission - near the Broomielaw - had to shut last week and send people in need of help elsewhere.

Fundraising manager Graham Steven says it was "devastating" to have to tell those who turned up last Wednesday they should go elsewhere.

He gestures at empty shelves labelled 2016, 2017 and 2018. "All these shelves were full at Christmas," he says. "It is almost laughable to think now that we were dating tins with the year so we wouldn't waste food."

Glasgow City Mission, which provides services to help vulnerable people, had been handing out food parcels for "many years" when it overhauled its service last September in the face of soaring demand.

Steven says: "Historically, we would give out a bag of tins to around 150 clients once a week, and then we would get two or three calls a week from agencies such as social services looking for a food parcel.

"In April last year, when the first round of welfare changes kicked in, that shot up to 10 phone calls a day - and sometimes 30 calls a day.

"So we relaunched the service with set opening hours and a dedicated team of volunteers who could issue food but also get under the skin of why someone is having to come here. What we don't want is people trapped in a situation - we want to provide lasting help."

The food-bank service normally operates on Mondays, Wednesdays and Friday, seeing around 35 people in need of emergency help during each two-hour session.

Around 80% of supplies are gathered from churches and schools in October, around harvest service time, and topped up by Christmas collections.

Normally, this stock would last until around August, Steven says. But with demand so high and the service recording its busiest ever day on February 10 - when 46 people turned up looking for help - the food bank was unable to hand out food on Wednesday or Friday last week.

After issuing an urgent appeal for fresh supplies, the service will reopen tomorrow.

"Often people are very ashamed to be here," Steven says. "I think what the food bank has shown is that life has become fragile for a much larger pool of people."

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Food and drink

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